Cavities And Their Treatment

Many people have had at least one or two cavities in their lifetime. However, they may know little about how cavities form and are treated.

Here is a bit of information about cavities and their treatment options.

What Is a Cavity?

Cavities, which are also called dental caries, are holes in the tooth material that form due to decay. If left untreated, the holes, which are permanent, can become larger and deeper, affecting the interior layers of the tooth and possibly leading to an infection.

How Do Cavities Form?

Cavities form when acids in the mouth demineralize the tooth enamel. The tooth enamel is made up of minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous. These minerals are dissolved by acids. The dissolution of the minerals weakens the enamel, eventually causing holes to form. 

The bacteria in the mouth, such as Streptococcus mutans, release cavity-causing acids as digestive waste products. When you eat foods that contain simple carbohydrates, the microbes feed on the sugars and excrete the acids as waste. Thus, the more you eat starchy or sugary foods, the more acids are released in your mouth, increasing the likelihood of cavity formation.

Acids may also be introduced to the mouth from foods or drinks with a high acid content, such as sodas. 

How Are Cavities Treated?

The treatment of a cavity depends on its size and severity. Here are a few treatment options for a tooth with a cavity:

  • Filling. A dental filling can be made of a variety of substances, such as resin, silver amalgam, gold, or porcelain. Before the dentist fills the tooth, they remove the decayed portion of the tooth material. The filling replaces the lost material. A filling alone may be sufficient for a small cavity.
  • Crown. A dental crown may be used in conjunction with a filling if a cavity is large. Due to the loss of significant portions of the tooth, large cavities can weaken the tooth structure, making the tooth more susceptible to further damage. The crown covers the entire natural crown of the tooth to fortify it and restore its functionality and appearance.
  • Extraction. If a cavity grows so large that little tooth material is left, the dentist may recommend an extraction. The removal of the tooth eliminates any pain associated with the cavity and prevents the further spread of decay.

If you have a cavity, schedule a consultation with a family dentist in your local area.