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What exactly is a cavity?
Cavities, sometimes called dental caries, are holes in the teeth caused by acids produced by bacteria present in the mouth. These acids are formed from bacteria when they digest the sugars from carbohydrates like desserts. Acids caused by bacteria weaken the outer layer of the tooth called the enamel. When the enamel is weakened this provides an environment on the tooth for cavities to develop.
There are various locations where cavities can form. The hard outer layer of the tooth is called enamel and consists primarily of minerals. If a cavity develops here no pain or sensitivity will be experienced because nerves are absent in this tooth layer. Cavities present in this layer require just fluoride for re-mineralization of the tooth. However, cavities present at other locations require the tooth to be drilled to excise the decay. After the decay from the tooth has been removed, a filling is placed in the drilled area of the tooth. The deeper a cavity in the tooth, the more time it requires to fill it. It is important to get rid of the cavity as soon as possible to avoid extensive drilling and extensive time to fill the tooth.
What age group has the most cavities?
Most cavities are detected in young children and adults over fifty. Adults over fifty oftentimes have old fillings allowing bacteria to enter the tooth if fillings are loose or a crack in the tooth is present. Another explanation why adults over fifty get more cavities is the presence of gum recession around a tooth which exposes the tooth root to plaque and increases the chance of a cavity. A high carbohydrate diet and poor oral hygiene are also be contributing factors for the development of dental caries in both of the aforementioned age groups.
How do Rensselaer Dentists detect cavities?
At Rensselaer Dentists a thorough dental examination for cavities will be conducted. Sometimes visual inspection of a tooth that has a black or brown spot will indicate the presence of a cavity. Another way to detect cavities is to use a thin metal probe on a tooth surface during a dental examination. If the metal probe catches on the surface of the tooth, this is where a cavity has formed. Why the metal probe catches on the surface of the tooth is because the tooth has been altered and weakened by bacterial acid, causing a cavity to form. X-rays are another form of cavity detection, especially when the cavities is in a hidden place like the tooth root or between the surfaces of neighboring teeth.
Types of dental fillings used at Rensselaer Dentists
There are various types of dental fillings. Rensselaer's dental fillings differ in their strength of material, appearance, composition and dental uses. Some of the most commonly used fillings are amalgam, composite resins and porcelain. Dr. Balvich will discuss with you after the dental examination is completed about what type or types of dental fillings may be used if a cavity has been found during your dental examination.
Steps on filling a cavity at Rensselaer Dentists
What happens if a cavity is found? The first things that are considered are the location of the cavity and which layer or layers of the tooth the cavity is in. If the cavity is in the enamel part of the tooth a simple fluoride treatment is used. However, if the cavity is in in deeper layers, drilling and filling the tooth is required. The next tooth layer below the enamel is called the cementum near the tooth root. Going deeper into the next layer of the tooth, called the dentin, is where the nerve endings are present. The next layer is where the dental pulp resides. This layer contains the major blood supply of the tooth which gives it nourishment and keeps it alive. If the cavity is present in this layer the tooth may require a crown instead of a filling. This is why it is important to treat a cavity when it is small and is easy to repair.
After the cavity has been located in the tooth, Dr. Balvich will anesthetize the tooth with xylocaine. He will then drill the decayed area and proceed to fill the tooth. Several days after the tooth has been filled there may be some sensitivity to the temperature.
At Rensselaer Dentists we take pride in the quality of work we give to our patients. Dr. Balvich has successfully filled many cavities in the past with expertise and skill to ensure that loose fillings and cracks in his patient’s teeth do not reoccur prematurely. If you would like a dental examination for cavities make your appointment today.