When bacteria and acids break down your teeth, they leave holes in the enamel of your teeth called cavities.
Leftover sugar and food on the surface of the teeth feed the cavity-causing bacteria as they break down the strength and mineralization in enamel, causing cavities.
So how can you protect your teeth from cavities? Floss regularly and brush with fluoridated toothpaste.
You can also remove leftover food from your teeth by rinsing with water after a meal or snack.
And, as always, seeing your dentist twice a year will prevent and catch cavities before they cause too much trouble.
There are several ways to go about treating cavities, depending on how bad the decay is.
- If you catch the decay early enough, a fluoride varnish applied to the affected teeth will be enough to stop the decay in its tracks.
- If you’ve already got a cavity, your dentist will have to remove the decay and fill the hole with a filling.
- If the decay has damaged your tooth’s nerve center, you may need a root canal to remove the nerve and restore it with crown.
- If your tooth is severely damaged, it may need to be removed.
Fluoride is very effective in preventing cavities, and can be found in toothpaste, as well as some drinks and water supplies. It strengthens enamel on the tooth by making it more resistant to bacterial acids in plaque.
If you’re worried about cavities hurting the function of your teeth, your dentist may use fillings or crowns to restore function or improve the appearance of damaged teeth to their usual polish. Fillings replace the tooth structure you may be missing, and can be made from silver amalgam, composite, or glass ionomer. Inlays and onlays are tooth filling materials that are often made from gold or porcelain and cemented into place.
If your teeth are more damaged, a crown may be a better option. The process for crowns works like this: the decay is removed, the tooth is built up and prepped for the crown, and then we make a mold to create your new crown. Once your crown is finished, we’ll fit it to your mouth and cement it into place.
If the decay in your teeth runs deep enough to damage the pulp and nerve center of the tooth, you may need a root canal to save your tooth!