Starting at a young age, we are taught that we should do everything possible to avoid developing a cavity. While many of us understand that a cavity is not something to be desired and should be prevented whenever possible, not everyone understands what a cavity is or that it has the potential to jeopardize the overall health of the mouth. One of the most dangerous aspects of a cavity is that many patients do not experience pain until severe damage and decay have occurred in the tooth. If the damage resulting from a cavity is so severe that the only viable treatment is extraction, the very integrity of the remaining healthy teeth is put at risk. Even one missing tooth can cause the teeth in the mouth to shift and become loose, and can increase a patient’s risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay.
What Is a Cavity?
Cavities, also known as dental caries, can affect children, teens, adults, and seniors. Simply stated, cavities are permanently damaged areas in the tooth’s dentin and enamel that create small holes. The most common cause of a cavity is tooth decay. Tooth decay results from the build-up of plaque on the surfaces of the teeth. Plaque forms when acid, saliva, food particles, and bacteria within the mouth combine. If plaque is not promptly removed from the teeth, it will eventually eat away at the tooth’s surface, causing decay. The acids found within plaque will slowly cause a cavity to form in a tooth.
Prevention Is the Best Treatment
Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This still holds true today. To help prevent dental problems and to treat them in their earliest stages, we recommend that all of ourLas Vegas cosmetic dentistry patients undergo routine, comprehensive dental examinations at least once every six months. Through regular dental screenings and patient education, we can help prevent dental issues altogether. Another advantage of regular dental examinations is that if a dental problem does develop, we can treat it in its earliest stages before it can cause irreversible damage to the teeth. There are many ways to help prevent cavities from forming, including:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Flossing your teeth at least once a day
- Eating a healthy diet
- Undergoing routine dental examinations and professional dental cleanings
Treatment for Cavities
For our patients in Las Vegas, cavities are not something to be feared. While a cavity is not ideal, there are many effective and aesthetically pleasing treatments available today. Some of the treatment options for cavities are amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings, inlays and onlays, and dental crowns. The severity of the cavity, the location of the cavity, and your unique needs and goals will help determine which treatment is recommended.
Tooth-colored fillings are among the most durable, long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective options in the treatment of cavities currently available. Tooth-colored fillings are comprised of a special, durable resin or porcelain material and are designed to match your natural tooth color. Because they are designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth, they are practically undetectable once placed. An added benefit of tooth-colored fillings is that they do not contain any mercury, making them safer than traditional metal (amalgam) fillings. Less of the healthy portion of the tooth has to be removed when placing tooth-colored fillings than with metal fillings, yet they are virtually as strong as metal fillings. Tooth-colored fillings also have a lower risk of cracking or fracturing than metal fillings. Because of their strength and aesthetic benefits, we often recommend tooth-colored fillings in the treatment of cavities to ourLas Vegas restorative dentistry patients.
If you would like to learn more about the treatment options for cavities,please contact Jason L. Downey, DDS Dentistry today.