Some folks might think that tooth decay is only a problem that children endure, however, the truth is that cavities can affect a person at any age. Many adults have been treated with restorative dental work after developing tooth decay. Since many folks believe that cavities are only a problem for children, some adults avoid visiting the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Once a cavity forms, it must be professionally treated with restorative dental procedures, such as the placement of a filling to prevent the cavity from deepening and infecting the innermost structures of a tooth. Following is some helpful information on understanding why cavities form and how they are treated.
How Cavities Develop
A healthy tooth has a strong enamel coating that surrounds the entire tooth above the gum line. While tooth enamel is very durable and strong, it can be damaged. If enamel is damaged, the soft dentin structure of teeth is exposed to bacteria that cause cavities. The most common way that tooth enamel is damaged is by exposure to acid. Strongly acidic beverages and foods can strip away the minerals that compose enamel and permanently damage tooth enamel with time. Once the structure of teeth underneath enamel is exposed, bacteria can begin to eat through the tooth, which forms a cavity. While a broken bone or ligament can theoretically heal on its own, a tooth cannot. Since a tooth cannot self-heal, a professional restoration is needed to prevent a cavity from reaching the nerves of a tooth.
Types of Restorations
Restorations are used to preserve teeth from further damage. A restoration may be made from a number of different materials such as composite resin, porcelain, or metal. The type of restoration will depend on the width and depth of the cavity. For example, small areas of decay are treated with a filling. Made from composite resin (a tooth colored compound) or amalgam (a mixture of metals) a filling preserves as much biological tooth structure as possible while protecting the tooth from further damage. Dental crowns (a porcelain or metal cap) are placed over a tooth when decay or damage is more severe.
Call our practice to schedule a checkup with our dentist, Dr. Barry Buchanan.