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Cavities

What is a tooth cavity?

A tooth cavity develops from bacteria and acid combined, which creates a soft spot or a weak spot in the tooth that ends up growing and creating an active hole in the tooth. Traditionally, we've always told patients to brush and floss to avoid cavities. However, there's more to it, including factors such as medication, dry mouth, clenching and grinding your teeth, and even diet, external acid or internal acid from acid reflux. All these factors together can really impact a patient's ability to develop cavities.

How worried should I be about getting cavities?

Cavities should be something that are dealt with as early as possible. When we're able to deal with a cavity in a very early, shallow manner, then there's really nothing to worry about. The treatment includes doing fillings. The need for bigger restorations increases with bigger cavities, which involves more and extensive treatment.

Is it too late if a cavity hurts?

When a cavity starts to hurt, it means that the cavity has penetrated beyond the enamel into the inner structure of the dentin of the tooth. If it starts to get deeper and touch the nerve of the tooth, then the tooth will require a root canal or nerve therapy to stop the pain associated with the cavity. Conservative treatment methods may still be possible depending on the depth of the cavity, determined by taking an x-ray. It is one of the main reasons why we encourage treating a cavity as early as possible. The way we treat cavities is by depth. A shallow cavity can be treated with a simple resin filling, whereas a deeper or more extensive filling may require an indirect restoration, such as an onlay, a crown, or even a conservative inlay. After a cavity has been treated and the restoration completed, it is possible to get a new cavity underneath it if we're not able to clean properly around it or maintain and watch the restoration over time with periodic x-rays and doctor exams. Therefore, it is important to maintain a cavity filling or a crown with the same diligence and care that we would use for our natural teeth.

Prevention of cavities

Prevention is one of the biggest things that we talk about when addressing cavities. Because cavities can be caused by more than just brushing and flossing, we need to address all the different avenues which may lead a patient to needing a cavity fill. Looking at medications, addressing dry mouth, addressing bruxing and clenching, and even addressing external acids from foods that we eat, things that we drink, all will be vital to preventing cavities.

At our office, we love to sit and come up with a thorough diagnosis and a thorough plan for preventing cavities and attacking all of these different areas that may be contributing. If you feel that you have a dental cavity or have had dental cavity treatment in the past and would like us to take a look and evaluate your risk, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (252) 651-4419. Our doctors would love to sit and talk with you about your risk factors and how we can prevent cavities in the future.

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