The human mouth is filled with bacteria that produce acids. These acids gradually erode the teeth in a process known as tooth decay. If this process is not prevented through proper oral hygiene, the teeth will eventually develop cavities.
What is a Cavity?
A cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth when the acid produced by bacteria eats away the minerals faster than the tooth can repair it. There are no symptoms of a cavity until the tooth has decayed to the point where it develops an infection. When this occurs, the tooth will develop a sharp pain known as a toothache. The pain can be mild to excruciating and may come and go.
As most dentists recommend, the best way to prevent a cavity is by brushing one's teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing with an oral rinse. As the tooth begins to decay more severely, there are several treatments that a dentist can use to attempt to repair the tooth. One of the best oral care product brands on the market to prevent cavities is TheraBreath®. Click here to view the complete line of TheraBreath® oral care products.
Filling a Cavity
One approach is to fill in the cavity with fillings. This is a substance that fills in the tooth and prevents bacteria from entering the tooth. A tooth that becomes infected will gradually wear away and fall out. However, a filling will prevent the bacteria from infecting the inside.
A dentist will first numb the area where he or she will treat the tooth. Then, an instrument must be used to remove the decayed part of the tooth. Instruments that are typically used include a laser, drill or air abrasion instrument. With the cavity opened up, the dentist must inspect the tooth to make sure that the entire decayed area of tooth has been removed. The cavity must then be cleaned to create space for the filling. After the dentist fills the tooth, he or she must polish and try to match the original tooth shape. This helps to ensure the patient has a comfortable and natural mouth closure.
Cavities must be caught as early as possible. Fillings are much easier and are less expensive than the measures used to salvage teeth with more severe tooth decay. In some cases, the tooth has decayed to the point where the nerve is in danger. Under these circumstances, the dentist will use a liner to protect the nerve before injecting the filling.
Patients can have a tooth-colored filling used by the dentist to give their teeth a more natural look. In this case, the filling must be applied in layers and each layer must be hardened individually using a special light. The dentist then shapes, trims and polishes the remaining filling.
Crowning a Tooth
When a tooth decays badly enough, it can become broken. In this case, the tooth can only be repaired with a crown, which attempts to restore the tooth at the gum line. The crown is sometimes added after a root canal to prevent the tooth from breaking.
The crown will hold a very fragile tooth together, maximizing the chances that the patient will keep his or her teeth. The crown also can be used to restore a tooth that has already been broken. If there isn't much of a tooth left and the tooth has received a very large filling, the crown will cover the filling and support the tooth. The crown is intended to look like an actual tooth, allowing patients to keep the dental work a secret.
Dental crowns are sometimes used in combination with a bridge or a dental implant. The crown is needed to hold the dental bridge in place and is also needed to cover up dental implants. Dental bridges are used to bridge a gap that is created between one or more missing teeth. Dental implants are objects that serve as a foundation for a false tooth.
In some cases, the pulp of the tooth becomes infected as a result of the cavity. This can create severe pain and the dentist will need to remove the infected pulp through a process called a root canal. The remainder of the pulp can then heal after the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned and sealed. The tooth is usually sealed with a crown.
The tooth nerve does not serve an important function in the tooth and the act of removing this nerve does not have a negative impact on the tooth. The only role that the nerve serves is to provide the tooth with the sensation of heat and cold. But when the nerve breaks down, bacteria can easily multiple within the pulp. This can lead to an abscessed tooth, which causes severe pain, foul breath, swollen neck glands and often a draining sore on the side of the gums. The consequences of an infected nerve are far greater than the negligible benefits.
A root canal root canal can be performed by a dentist or endodontist and is a procedure that removes the tooth nerve and tooth pulp. An endodontist is specialized in infected pulp and is usually hired in the case of a difficult root canal. The endodontist first performs an x-ray to determine whether there is any infection around the bone and to determine the shape of the root canal. If there is still a nerve, the endodontist will likely need to use pain killers to numb the area. A sheet of rubber must then be used to keep the area around the tooth dry. The endodontist drills a hole in the tooth to gain access. The endodontist removes the pulp and cleans the area using root canal files, which are used to scrape the sides of the canals. The debris is then washed away.
Some dentists wait before sealing the tooth. If an infection develops, the dentist will want to administer a medication before sealing the tooth. If an infection develops after the tooth has been filled, the tooth will have to be drilled again to remove the infection.
The Role of Tooth Decay in Bad Breath
Tooth decay not only has a detrimental effect on a smile, but can also cause bad breath. A foul odor in the mouth results both from bacteria and from food particles that get trapped in the decayed tooth. These food particles will then rot and cause bad breath. The only way to stop the bad breath is to treat the underlying problem by treating the cavity.
Good Oral Care is Essential
The costs of repairing a tooth that has a cavity will only increase the more the tooth decays. For this reason, people must practice good oral hygiene. As tooth decay progresses, more extreme, invasive, expensive and painful measures will have to be taken. For this reason, patients should respond to the problem sooner, rather than later, by scheduling an appointment with a dentist. Click here to view a complete line of effective oral health products that will help prevent tooth decay and cavities.