Dental caries, or tooth cavities, are an unfortunate dental problem that is especially prevalent among children and adolescents. However, tooth decay and dental cavities also affect adults.
A cavity forms when you have too much plaque build-up on your tooth. When plaque comes in contact with sugar and starch, it activates bacteria in plaque, causing it to attack and erode your tooth enamel. As the tooth enamel breaks down and wears away, it leaves the tooth susceptible to the formation of dental cavities.
Dr. Cappy Sinclair and Dr. Mark Reichley are family dentists in Virginia Beach. Our comprehensive preventative and general dentistry program can help your prevent and treat tooth decay. Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Reichley use tooth-colored restorations to fill cavities, including composite dental fillings and porcelain tooth crowns.
If you have a severely damaged tooth that is causing pain, we may recommend root canal therapy. We can complete the treatment in our Virginia Beach dental office during a single visit!
The Signs of a Tooth Cavity
It’s important to be aware of the signs of tooth cavities so that you can get treatment before they become more serious and cause a lot of damage to your teeth. Cavities often have no recognizable symptoms in the early stages of their formation, so noticing changes in your teeth early is essential. The following are some of the different signs and symptoms of a cavity so that you can keep an eye out and get treatment as soon as possible.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Especially when consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages.
- Visible Holes in the Teeth: These holes may appear white, black, or brown and can often form on the surfaces between adjoining teeth.
- Persistent Toothache: If you experience consistent pain in your teeth, it may be a sign of a cavity.
- Dark Spots: These spots can appear on the enamel of a tooth, indicating decay.
- Bad Breath: Chronic bad breath can sometimes be an indicator of tooth decay.
- Small Surface pits: These often appear on the chewing surface of molars or premolars.
Tooth cavity symptoms vary from one patient to another. However, our dentist can spot the signs of early tooth decay and prevent the cavity from getting worse.
Preventing Tooth Decay
We can not stress enough the importance of preventing tooth decay. Tooth decay is an unfortunate reality for our patients, but the good news is that there are simple steps you can take to protect your teeth from decay. With regular dental care, consistent brushing and flossing, and a healthy diet, you can avoid any serious issues when it comes to dental health. The following list will help you prevent cavities and maintain a healthy smile.
- Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day: Brushing your teeth at least two times a day is essential to removing plaque from the tooth surfaces and around the gums.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste: Fluoride is an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps to protect against tooth decay.
- Floss Daily: Don’t skip the floss! Brushing only removes plaque from the front and back of teeth – flossing removes plaque from between teeth, where cavities often form.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Avoid sugary drinks and soda. Water helps rinse the mouth and wash away plaque and bacteria. Dry mouth accelerates bacteria in the mouth, causing bad breath and can lead to cavities and gum disease.
- Eat Healthy: Avoid snacking between meals. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Chew Sugarless Gum: Studies show that chewing sugarless gum with xylitol or sorbitol for just 20 minutes a day can reduce cavity formation. Look for the ADA seal on your pack of gum.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly: The ADA recommends that children and adults visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine exams, dental cleanings, and x-rays. These visits can help to intercept problems before they advance to tooth decay and cavities.
Our dentists want you to have the confidence to make small changes to your routine so that you can enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
Treatment For Dental Cavities
Our dental care team can help you fill your tooth cavities and prevent further decay. We offer preventative dental services to provide stability and protection to your affected teeth. The most common way of filling a cavity is to use a dental filling. However, we can also provide partial crowns, and full crowns for larger cavities.
Composite Resin Dental Fillings
A composite resin filling is very durable and will help protect the tooth from further decay in a single visit. The material sets quickly, so our dentist shapes and polishes it directly on your tooth to create a natural appearance. He will first use a drill to remove the decayed part of the tooth. Then he will prepare the cavity by cleaning it and shaping it for the filling material. Finally, Dr. Sinclair will use a composite resin filling material to fill the cavity. To learn more about our composite dental fillings, see Dental Filling.
Porcelain Inlays or Onlays (partial crowns)
A dental inlay and onlay is a type of restoration we can use to repair and/or replace one or more cusps of a decayed tooth. The cusp is the top surface of a tooth. Our dentist will use an inlay or onlay to fill a cavity that is too large for a simple filling. However, an inlay and onlay treatment is usually more conservative than placing a crown in terms of tooth structure removal.
The process of getting an inlay or onlay is similar to a filling, except it will involve a dental lab. First, our dentist will clean the decay in the tooth cavity. Then he will take an impression of the cavity and make a model of the tooth. He will send this model to a dental lab and have them create an inlay or onlay to fill the cavity.
When the inlay or onlay is ready, Dr. Sinclair will bond it to the cavity using dental cement. Next, he will trim and smooth out the edges of the inlay or onlay so that it fits perfectly. Then, he will use a curing light to harden the resin cement and permanently place the inlay or onlay. He will also check your bite and adjust the fit accordingly. Finally, he will polish the dental restoration and make sure it’s flush with the rest of the tooth.
Ceramic Dental Crowns
Ceramic crowns provide a natural-looking, durable, and long-lasting solution to dental problems. Our dentists often use them to restore decayed or broken teeth and improve overall dental health. However, Dr. Sinclair can use ceramic crowns to repair large cavities! Teeth with cavities that are too large for fillings, inlays, and onlays will need a substantial amount of protection. That’s where a dental crown is the best option.
Tooth Cavities FAQs
What happens if you don’t treat a tooth cavity?
If you do not treat a cavity, it will continue to eat away at the tooth and continue deeper, working its way to the root of your tooth. This can cause severe tooth damage, infection, and tooth loss! A root canal may become necessary, or you risk losing your tooth altogether.
Can a tooth with a cavity heal itself?
After a cavity has formed, it cannot heal itself. Once a patient begins to feel pain from the tooth, they should see a dentist soon. This means that damage to the tooth is getting worse and needs treatment as soon as possible. Tooth enamel doesn’t grow back.
Do cavities spread from tooth to tooth?
Cavities do not spread from tooth to tooth; however, they can speed up the growth of other neighboring cavities if oral hygiene is poor in a specific area of the mouth.
Are cavities permanent?
Dental cavities are permanent. They are decayed areas of your tooth that develop into holes and openings. Fillings come in to replace the decayed tooth and strengthen your weakened tooth. Without a filling or crown, the cavity will only get larger and cause more harm.
What are the stages of a cavity?
The first stage of a cavity is when white spots appear on the tooth. Next, tooth enamel begins to decay. The decay continues to go deeper until it reaches the pulp. At this point, the patient will feel pain and will start to notice an issue. Developed cavities appear as black spots or holes in the tooth.
Give us a call at 757-656-6368, or request a dental exam and consultation online today.