When you have a cavity in a tooth as a result of tooth decay, your dentist can help you restore your smile. Cavities may also simply be called tooth decay, or caries, and it’s an extremely common health issue worldwide. How do you know if you’ve got cavities?
• If it is still small, you may not experience any symptoms at all.
• You may feel a toothache or tooth sensitivity.
• You may feel pain when you eat or drink something sugary, or food and drink that is very hot or cold.
• Once the cavities have developed, you may see a hole or pit in your tooth, or brown or back staining.
Tooth decay is a process that takes place over time. In the beginning stages, however, you can change its course.
• First, the plaque forms. You will notice it as a clear, sticky kind of film that coats your teeth when you don’t brush. It is fed by sugars and starches that are not cleaned away from your teeth. Bacteria feeds on the sugars, and that’s what forms plaque.
• Tartar forms from hardened plaque, and you will often notice it around the gumline. It is much harder to remove than plaque, and requires a professional cleaning. The hard tartar allows more bacteria to grow.
• Plaque and tartar create acids that erode the tooth enamel. As tiny holes begin to form, bacteria and acids can attack the dentin, which lies underneath tooth enamel.
• Tiny tubules within the dentin allow the bacteria and acids to reach the nerve, which causes sensitivity.
• Finally, the pulp of the tooth – the inner layer that contains nerves and blood vessels – is affected by the decay.
• If left unchecked, the decay can even extend to the jawbone.
Fillings – the Materials
There are several types of fillings, including cast gold, silver or amalgam fillings, (which are made of silver, mercury, tin, zinc, and copper,) porcelain, and ceramics. We choose composite fillings, which can be exactly matched to your tooth colour and blend in with the rest of your teeth – including front teeth at the centre of your smile.
• Composite fillings chemically bond with your teeth, which gives them good support and shape.
• The material can also be used to repair cracked or chipped teeth, since it blend in so well with real teeth.
• The procedure typically requires less of the decayed tooth to be removed than with other types of fillings.
What happens when your dentist fills your tooth? It’s a multi-step procedure.
• After an anesthetic, the dentist may use a drill, an instrument that uses air abrasion, or a laser to remove the decayed parts of the tooth. The type of instrument used is dictated to a certain extent by the location and extent of the decay.
• Once the dentist has made sure all the decay has been removed – to prevent further decay – the space within the tooth is cleaned of any debris.
• Sometimes, the dentist will add a lining layer of composite material if the cavity extends close to the root of the tooth. This will protect the nerves.
• Tooth-coloured composite material is applied in layers. As each layer has been applied, a light instrument cures the material, and hardens it before the next layer is added.
• As each layer is applied, the dentist will refine the shape of the new material so that it matches the shape of the tooth.
• Finally, the restored tooth is polished.
The best way to deal with cavities is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Good oral hygiene routines that you practice each day, including brushing and flossing, will avoid the build up of food particles and bacteria at the heart of the tooth decay process.
Looking for advice on cavities, or any aspect of your oral and dental health? You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.