Cavities. Could this be the single word that strikes the most trepidation into the hearts (and teeth) of patients everywhere? At Duncraig Village Dental, we understand cavities, and subsequently, fillings, aren’t everyone’s idea of an ideal trip to the dentist. But if spotted early, or treated with the right professional care, a tooth cavity can be easily averted or painlessly treated.
Over the course of this article, we’ll attempt to debunk some myths about cavities and offer insights into how a cavity is formed, how it can be prevented, and how best to mitigate their effect.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities, or dental caries, are a form of tooth decay produced by certain bacteria that destroy a tooth’s enamel, and the tooth’s dentin – the layer underneath the enamel.
Tooth decay is formed by plaque: a sticky collection of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria convert the sugar from drinks and foods into acid, dissolving the enamel in our teeth, causing small holes which gradually increase in size (if not prevented) causing decay (cavities).
If the bacteria is not treated, the decay can grow larger, causing toothache and abscesses, potentially affecting the delicate nerves within a tooth, the gums, and potentially the jaw bone.
Cavities affect people of all ages and can cause other health-related problems, but if treated early (and correctly) cavities can be easily prevented.
How Can I Prevent a Cavity?
To put it simply, good dental care is a great first step. We recommend brushing your teeth two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks, visiting your dentist regularly, and keeping a close watch on the health of your teeth. If your teeth are discoloured, have small holes, are beginning to form white spots near the gumline, or you’re experiencing tooth pain or toothache, we recommend visiting your dentist promptly.
If a cavity is identified, a dentist will recommend a suitable course of action.
Will I Need a Filling?
That depends. Cavities, in their early stages, can be treated. Fluorides and other preventative treatments can reverse the process of decay. However, if there is noticeable damage to the tooth, and the enamel has been damaged, a dentist will most likely fill the tooth with a filling.
If a filling is required, a professional dentist will numb the tooth area by administering a local anaesthetic before drilling into the tooth and removing the decayed material, replacing the cavity with a filling.
How a Filling Works.
There are many types of fillings: they range in appearance, strength, longevity, material and cost. Each type of filling serves a different purpose. Your dentist will inform you of your options best served to the size and location of your cavity.
Commonly, there are five major filling materials:
- Amalgam fillings: a mixture of metals known for their strength. The most common type of filling.
- Composite resin fillings: tooth coloured and more natural looking, but more expensive than amalgam fillings.
- Glass-ionomer cement fillings: can be tooth coloured, but not as strong as composite as it is usually used on infant and less impacted teeth.
- Porcelain and gold fillings: Strong, long-lasting and the most expensive option. Porcelain can be tooth coloured.
It is recommended to continue good dental practice after receiving a filling – as fillings may be damaged or trap food within the tooth (causing further tooth damage).
Cavities can be prevented with sound dental practice and regular visits to your dentist. If fillings are required, there are a range of options to best suit your condition or budget.
If you are experiencing tooth pain, we recommend visiting your local professional dentist immediately – whether it’s your DV Dental dentist in Duncraig, or any other approved dentist in Perth.
For any further information on cavities and its treatment, please visit us at our Duncraig dental practice, visit our website at dvdental.com.au or call our practice on 9246 9911.