Nearly everyone has experienced a cavity at some point in their life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 currently have at least one cavity. Cavities are also prevalent in children, as 52 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 8 have had a cavity in their primary or “baby” teeth.
A cavity is the breakdown of healthy tooth structure due to bacteria that build up on the teeth. Plaque, made up of bacteria, forms a sticky layer on the teeth. If plaque is not removed through regular brushing and the occasional dental teeth cleaning performed by your Melbourne FL dentist, plaque can start to erode the enamel and create a pit.
When cavities are left untreated, they can reach the tooth’s inner dental layer and potentially cause pain and sensitivity.
What are the Oral Symptoms of a Cavity?
You may not always realize you have a cavity at first. The signs and symptoms can vary from no symptoms at all when the cavity is first forming to severe pain and sensitivity as the cavity gets larger.
Visiting your Melbourne Florida dentist regularly can help ensure that any cavities are found and treated at their earliest stages.
Some of the most common oral signs and symptoms of a dental decay or cavity include:
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Toothache, which could appear as spontaneous pain or discomfort that has no apparent cause.
- Visible pits or holes in your teeth.
- Mild to sharp pain when drinking or eating something hot, cold, or sweet.
- Pain when you bite down.
- Black, brown, or white staining on any surface of a tooth.
How Is a Cavity Diagnosed?
There are several ways that a dentist can detect a cavity, even at its earliest stage. First, your dentist may ask if you have experienced any tooth pain or sensitivity lately as these symptoms could be signs that a cavity has developed. Next, your dentist will examine your mouth and teeth to look for visible signs of decay.
Your dentist will use various dental instruments to probe your teeth and look for soft areas that could indicate the breakdown of enamel. To confirm any suspicions that a cavity has developed, dental X-rays may be taken to locate any cavities.
How Is a Cavity Treated?
The sooner that you have your cavity treated, the better your odds of reversing the earliest stages of tooth decay. If the cavity has just started, a fluoride treatment may be sufficient to help restore the tooth’s enamel. Fluoride treatments are generally available in gel, liquid, varnish, or foam variations.
One of the most common treatments for a cavity is a filling. Fillings are made of a variety of materials, such as dental amalgam, porcelain, or tooth-colored composite resin. During a filling, the decay is drilled out and removed before the hole is filled with a permanent material.
If the extent of the decay is severe or the tooth has weakened, your dentist may recommend a dental crown. With this treatment option, the dentist will drill away the decayed area of the tooth and restore it with filling material. A crown made of resin, porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or another material is then placed on the tooth.
If the decay has reached the inner layer of the tooth, known as the pulp, you may need a root canal. During a root canal, the damaged tooth pulp is removed and replaced with a filling material. After a root canal, the tooth is usually weakened and will require a crown to restore its appearance and strength.
If a tooth is so severely decayed that it cannot be restored, extraction may be the only viable solution. As a tooth extraction leaves a gap that allows your other teeth to shift, it’s best to consider restoration, such as a dental implant or bridge.
Schedule an Exam with Artistic Touch Dentistry
If you believe that you may have a cavity or require treatment for an existing cavity, the dental experts at Artistic Touch Dentistry can help. Contact us at 1.321.724.1400 to schedule an appointment.