What are Cavities?
Dental cavities are a common oral health issue affecting millions of Americans. They are caused by tooth decay which gradually erodes the health of your tooth’s outer layer (enamel) and inner layer (dentin). While cavities are commonly associated with children, they regularly develop in adults as well. It is important to visit our Mesa dental office twice a year for your regular checkups and teeth cleanings to both prevent and catch early any tooth decay that can lead to cavities.
What Causes a Cavity?
When you eat foods containing sugars, these sugars combine with bacteria in your mouth to form a filmy substance called plaque that adhears to your teeth. Over time, plaque will produce acid which dissolves the enamel of your teeth and causes your teeth to decay, by creating the holes which are commonly known as cavities.
Dental cavities can attack your teeth through the grooves on the biting surfaces or in between your teeth. Eventually, the cavity will spread from these areas into the underlying dentin. If left untreated, a dental cavity can infect the tooth’s nerve and create an abscess in the pulp at the center of the tooth. Once this occurs, you will most likely need a root canal to save the tooth.
There are several treatments available to repair the damage caused by a dental cavity. Mesa dentists Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will recommend the appropriate option based on the extent of decay present in your tooth. These options include:
- Dental fillings
- Porcelain inlays and onlays
- Dental crowns
- Root canal
Dental fillings are an ideal solution to repair minor cavities. The decayed portion of your tooth will be removed and replaced by a white composite filling. Due to the potential health risks associated with amalgam fillings, our dentists prefer to use dental fillings made of porcelain or composite resin. These fillings are highly durable and deliver beautiful, natural looking results.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are an ideal option if the decayed portion of your tooth is too large for a dental filling, but not quite large enough to require a dental crown. inlays are for repairing damage within the cusps of your teeth. Porcelain Onlays are for when the damage extends beyond one cusp.
When the decay from a cavity is extensive, a dental crown can be an option to repair the damage and protect your tooth. Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and then cover it with a dental crown.
If you do not treat your cavity for a long period of time, the nerve or pulp of the tooth dies. If this happens then the next treatment option will be a root canal to save the tooth. Our Mesa dentists will clean the center of the tooth and the root and remove any decay and the dead pulp tissue that is present. Your tooth’s root will then be filled with a sealing material and a dental crown will be placed on top for protection.