Did you know that tooth decay is one of the most common diseases affecting children? Adults aren’t immune either. Since cavities are a type of bacterial infection, untreated decay can easily spread from one tooth to another, or recurring cavities form in places where you already have dental fillings.
Cavities are preventable with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. But active decay needs to be treated quickly, while it’s small.
Who is a Risk of Having Dental Cavities?
People of all ages and backgrounds can develop cavities, but some specific risk factors can make some people more likely to develop dental decay. Such as:
- Crowded teeth
- Exposed root surfaces (gum recession)
- Inadequate brushing and flossing
- Diet high in processed carbohydrates and natural or artificial sweeteners
- Frequent snacking throughout the day
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
Let’s say you brush and floss every day, but you drink sweet tea or sports drinks 2-3 times a day. Even though your oral hygiene habits are thorough, your diet can still predispose you to cavities. Candy and soda are not the only foods that contribute to tooth decay. Or maybe you eat all the right foods but you never floss; when plaque or food debris gets left behind teeth, cavities will eventually develop.
If you’re at an elevated risk of getting cavities, our dentist in Rancho Bernardo can help. From identifying the factors contributing to your cavities to implementing preventative strategies and treating the decay, our goal is to help your smile last a lifetime.
How Dentists Fix Cavities
To determine how a dentist will fix cavities, you first need to figure out how large the decay is and how deep it reaches down into the tooth. Small cavities can usually be repaired with a modest white filling. Whereas larger cavities may require an inlay, onlay, or crown depending on their size.
If a cavity ever reaches deep enough into the tooth that the nerve is involved, the tooth may already show signs of being abscessed or dying. Nerve involvement means that root canal therapy is necessary to save the tooth. Otherwise, bacteria will become trapped under your new crown or filling, leading to recurring infection and eventual tooth loss.
Dr. Lozano makes a point to identify tooth decay as early as possible so that we can treat it while it’s small. Minimally invasive therapies like composite fillings help preserve tooth structure and stop the spread of decay into other teeth.
How to Take Care of a Cavity Before Going to the Dentist
Unfortunately, there is no way to treat or take care of a cavity without seeing a dentist. Regardless of what you might read online, it is scientifically impossible to reverse an active cavity and re-grow tooth enamel where there is already a void in your tooth structure.
All of that being said, it is possible to reverse the early stages of demineralization, which is the first phase of decay before a cavity forms. Good oral hygiene and fluoride can help remineralize those surfaces before decay is visible.
If you know you have a cavity and you’re waiting for your dental appointment, here are some tips to ease discomfort in the meantime:
- Rinse with warm salt water as needed
- Take an anti-inflammatory like Motrin or ibuprofen as directed
- Avoid chewing on that side of your mouth, so as not to break the tooth
- If there is a large void, use a temporary filling kit from the drug store to prevent food from packing into the tooth
The best thing you can do is schedule your dental filling appointment at your earliest opportunity. Delaying care will only cause the cavity to get worse, which can lead to more complex treatment needs or additional tooth involvement.
Even if you’ve had a past history of tooth decay, good oral hygiene and fluoride supplementation can help stop the cycle.
Visit our Dentist in Rancho Bernardo
If you have a sensitive tooth or something that feels off whenever you eat, call RB Dental Excellence. Our Rancho Bernardo dentist will evaluate your smile to determine the most proactive, least invasive treatment for your oral health concern. Contact us today to request your next exam.