If you’re about to undergo cavity treatment of some sort, congratulations! That’s awesome.
Does it seem like a silly thing to say?
Well, an estimate of over 30% of adults in America have untreated dental caries, so we think it’s great that you’re prioritizing your dental hygiene. ‘Cause if you don’t, you’re risking so many unnecessary complications and only exacerbating the pain for your future self.
Cavities occur when the bacteria on your teeth breakdown the enamel (first layer) and dentin (second layer) to create a fissure or hole. This usually manifests in a few symptoms, like pain, sensitivity or aches. In these situations, prevention is, of course, ideal, but there are plenty of great treatment options available as well.
If you’re apprehensive about your visit, don’t be. Read up on our overview of the processes involved and the information you need to know, and hopefully, that’ll help clear your mind!
A Treatment Determinant: What Type of Cavity Do you Have?
Treatments vary according to the kind of cavity you have. So during the diagnosis process, your dentist will work on identifying the nature of your cavity. Your cavity could be either one of the following:
- Smooth Cavities: The kind that occurs on the smooth surfaces of your teeth.
- Pit and Fissure Cavities: These are the ones within the chewing/hollow surface of your teeth.
- Root Cavities: These are created on the surfaces that lie above the roots.
Another determinant of your treatment is the severity of the cavity. The longer you prolong your treatment, the worse it’s going to get. So make sure (if you haven’t already) that you race to the dentist at the earliest signs of tooth decay.
The Initial Stages: Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatment is effective in the earliest stages of tooth decay. This is something your dentist may recommend if you’re either very prone to cavities or in the stage of developing one.
Your dentist will likely give you a concentrated rinse of fluoride or may administer it directly on the affected area through a cotton swab or some other applicant tool. The fluoride may take a while to absorb into your tooth, so you will have to stay off food and drink for about an hour or so.
Additionally, your dentist may also prescribe a medicated mouth wash or toothpaste to help speed up the process.
Restorative Cavity Treatment: The Filling
This is perhaps the most common treatment for tooth cavities. First, you will be given a mild anesthetic, and the area around your tooth will be numbed. This is done to minimize the pain or discomfort from the filling process.
After that, a hole will be drilled into the decayed area and replaced with a filling. Don’t worry. Before they get started, they will ensure that the anesthesia has kicked in.
Fillings can be made from amalgam, composite resin, metal, ceramic or even glass lonomer. The choice is entirely dependent on your budget, aesthetic preferences or sometimes, the kind of cavity you have. Before you get your filling, you will probably be asked about your personal preferences.
Generally, people opt for composite resin as it is designed to match your teeth. When inserted, it molds to fill in the cavity. Your dentist may then use photo-polymerization to harden it faster.
Amalgam is another popular filling made from tin, silver and mercury. The dentist will insert it into the cavity and shape it to fit correctly, leaving no air pockets on the sides.
For Prolonged Decay: The Crown
A dental crown may be in order for those with more extreme signs of decay. Here the dentist will look to replace the decayed crown of your tooth with an artificial mold. This is a fully customized crown designed specifically to ensure an appropriate fit.
A crown is essential for those with cavities too large to be restored with a filling or if you have a crack along with a cavity. Crowns are generally made from porcelain, metals or composites similar to a tooth filling.
Your dentist will first remove the decayed surface then mold the crown material to your tooth. After that, you will be given a temporary crown until the permanent one is ready. On your next appointment, the permanent crown will be tested for a fitting, and if you approve, it will be sealed into place.
Decay Down Under: Root Canals
Root canals are reserved for extreme situations where the decay has spread to the pulp and roots of your tooth. In this procedure, the dentist will first numb the area around the tooth and then insert a rubber sheet to keep it dry. Next, the pulp and damaged tissue will be extracted through a drilling process.
Then the pulp will be replaced with a temporary filling, and the crown process may be followed, depending on your arrangement.
A Solution for the Severe: Tooth Extraction
And when all hope of restoration is gone, your tooth will be extracted. You will be given an anesthetic and then loosened with an “elevator.” After it has been sufficiently loosened, the dentist will complete the extraction with a pair of forceps.
In some circumstances, your dentist may recommend a surgical removal that involves a small incision near your gum before extraction. Healing from a tooth extraction is a relative process that takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
Talk to Your Dentist
Be sure to give your dentist a thorough medical history beforehand to avoid any complications from any cavity treatment. It is important they especially know of any substances you might be allergic to so they can prevent accidental aggravation of the decay.
If you have any queries or qualms, feel free to communicate with your dentist and ask as many questions as you need. Each dentist may have their own unique process, so you can ask them to fill you in beforehand.
Wondering what treatment is right for you? Schedule an appointment with our qualified experts!