Cavities develop when a tooth is exposed to acid frequently. People who regularly eat or drink items that contain starches and sugar provide this ongoing exposure, and the teeth suffer as a result. They are under regular attack from the acids, which leads to the tooth enamel deteriorating.
When a white spot appears on a tooth, it is a sign the minerals have been depleted and the tooth is at risk of decay. Fortunately, if caught at this stage, the decay can be reversed or halted.
Tooth enamel works to repair itself using minerals present in the individual’s saliva. Fluoride in drinking water or toothpaste can also help to repair this damage.
However, if the tooth continues to decay, the depletion of minerals in the enamel will continue. When this enamel is destroyed, a cavity forms. The person must then see a dentist to have the damage repaired.
You may have questions about the process if you need a cavity filled. What should a person expect when visiting the dentist to have this work done?
How Does a Dentist Find a Cavity?
A dentist may use several methods to find cavities in a patient’s mouth. They begin by asking the patient if they have any tooth sensitivity or pain. They will examine the mouth, paying close attention to areas where the patient is experiencing these symptoms.
The dentist may probe the mouth with one or more dental instruments to find any soft spots. In addition, they take x-rays to help them detect cavities and determine the extent of the decay.
Treating the Cavity
Depending on the extent of the decay, a dentist may recommend one of several treatment options. If the decay is minimal, fluoride treatments might be enough to reverse the damage. When the decay has progressed, however, the dentist will need to restore the tooth with a filling.
If the damage has weakened the tooth or there is extensive decay, the dentist might recommend a crown. This covering replaces the natural crown of the tooth and is put into place after the dentist removes the decayed area.
A root canal is needed when the decay has progressed to the pulp or inner material of the tooth. This allows a tooth to be saved when it is infected or has sustained major damage. However, at times, the dentist may suggest the tooth needs to be extracted and a bridge or dental implant be put into place to restore the normal structure of the mouth.
The Time Needed to Fill a Cavity
Patients often ask how long it will take to fill a cavity. This depends on many factors, such as the extent of the damage. If the dentist believes a fluoride treatment will suffice, the patient should be in and out of the office quickly.
If a filling won’t be enough to repair the damage and the tooth requires a root canal, the appointment will last a few hours. Talk with the dentist about the recommended treatment and the time needed for the appointment. They can provide the most accurate estimate based on what they see.
See the dentist a minimum of twice each year to detect cavities early. The sooner problems are found, the less involved the treatment will be. This not only saves the patient time but also helps keep dental bills under control.
Make an appointment today to see the dentist. Doing so will keep your smile intact and allow you to feel more comfortable sharing your smile with others.