Did you know that 50% of first-graders and 80% of 17-year-olds have tooth cavities?
Tooth cavities are generally the result of plaque build-up and can affect anyone, regardless of age. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. When plaque comes in contact with sugar and starch, it causes bacteria to produce an acid that attacks and erodes tooth enamel.
As the tooth enamel breaks down and wears away, the tooth becomes susceptible to the formation of dental cavities. Good oral hygiene and routine dental care are the keys to minimizing your risk of tooth decay and can provide the foundation for lifelong dental health.
How to Prevent Tooth Cavities
Good oral health is essential to maintaining overall health and well-being. When you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, tooth decay and cavities can occur. Tooth decay is a major concern for many, but luckily, prevention is possible. Taking some of the following simple steps can help prevent tooth cavities from occurring.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (if over the age of 2). Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. Make sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth for at least two minutes.
- Floss daily because cavities frequently form between teeth. Brushing alone will not remove plaque and food particles that get stuck between your teeth. Flossing daily helps prevent plaque buildup and ultimately prevents cavities.
- Maintain a healthy diet, limiting sugary snacks and soda. Sugary foods and drinks are bad for your teeth in many ways, but primarily because they create an acidic environment that can cause cavities. We recommend limiting sugary items and instead choose foods that are high in calcium, fiber, and vitamins.
- Visit the dentist regularly for teeth cleanings and exams. Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is an important step in preventing tooth decay. Your dentist will provide you with a thorough cleaning and can detect any potential issue before it becomes a larger problem.
- Chew Sugar-Free Gum. Chewing sugar-free gum can help reduce plaque buildup. The act of chewing helps increase saliva flow, which washes away bacteria and food particles.
Our dental care team helps our patients that have a greater risk of tooth decay due to a medical condition, medication, or genetics. We offer personalized dental care and oral hygiene advice for keeping your smile as healthy as possible between visits. Remember that prevention is key, so make sure to brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly for optimal oral health.
Treatment For Tooth Cavities
Dr. Trinkner and Dr. Keefer offer a range of general dentistry services to treat any stage of tooth decay. We use tooth-colored dental fillings to treat teeth with early stages of tooth decay. Other options include inlays, onlays, and dental crowns. If tooth decay is extensive, a root canal may be necessary.
Visiting our Columbia dentist office twice a year for routine dental care provides the opportunity for our dental care team to spot developing tooth decay and other dental concerns. Spotting these problems in the early stages can almost always guarantee a conservative treatment approach as the most effective option.
Replace Your Old Fillings With a Cosmetic Tooth-colored Filling
Many patients have old, dark metal dental fillings that can begin to break down with age or cause them to hide their smiles.
We can replace dark, metal fillings with natural-looking cosmetic fillings that will be durable, comfortable, and brighten up your smile! Old damaged fillings can allow further tooth decay if left untreated over time.
Patients who have cavities, have damaged or decaying metal fillings, or who simply want to brighten up their smile have several treatment options. Treatment for tooth cavities at our Columbia dental office include the following:
- Composite resin dental fillings. White fillings consist of biocompatible resin material that looks just like real tooth enamel. We will match the color of the dental filling to your other teeth so that it blends in with your natural smile.
- Dental inlay. For patients with fillings that are degrading because of a damaged tooth, our dentist may suggest the use of a porcelain inlay for a more durable and comfortable repair. An inlay fits the inner contours of the tooth and completely fills any decayed areas.
- Dental onlay. Similar to an inlay, we prepare the dental onlay in much the same way. However, it covers the entire biting surface of a tooth that has a large cavity or more severe damage.
- Dental crowns. Our dentists may recommend using a dental crown in cases where the decay significantly compromises the structure of the tooth. Once we remove the old filling, our dentists will prepare the tooth for the new crown. It will fit over the entire tooth like a cap to provide long-term strength and durability.
Tooth Cavities FAQs
Can you fill a cavity without an anesthetic?
Dentists can fill cavities without using a numbing agent or local anesthetic, however we do not recommend it. Technology is making it easier to perform procedures pain-free, with no numbing. We still use anesthetic, but a dentist can fill small-enough cavities without it if that is a concern.
What happens if a cavity is extremely deep?
If a cavity is extremely deep, it may reach nerve tissue. This is the deepest layer in the tooth, and it can be very painful. If decay reaches the nerve you will need to have a root canal procedure to save your natural tooth from extraction.
What happens if you don’t fill cavities?
A cavity will continue to eat away at the surface enamel of the tooth until it reaches the root and effectively destroys the tooth from the inside out. The cavity will spread and cause more and more damage until it has decayed the tooth to an irreversible point. We recommend filling a cavity as soon as possible, when your dentist detects it.
Schedule a Dental exam and Tooth Filling Treatment Today
Should a filling become loose or dislodged, contact us immediately. We will see you as soon as possible to reattach the filling and check to see if further decay has occurred within the tooth. Contact our dentist in Columbia, SC today by calling 803-400-8729 or requesting a dental exam online.