Teeth help us enjoy a wide variety of food to nourish our bodies to grow strong and stay healthy. Teeth also make up our smile, which is an important part of making a good first impression when we meet new people. It is very important to take care of them as you won’t get any more naturally. The most common threat to a long life for your teeth is cavities.
Asheville dentist Dr. Hoffert at Red Maple Dental can identify dental cavities before most patients experience symptoms, so it is important to maintain regular dental check-ups. In advanced stages of tooth decay, you might experience:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- Visible holes or pits in the teeth
- Soreness around the gums
What are cavities?
Cavities are spots of decay on our teeth where the outer enamel has weakened and broken open, exposing the sensitive soft tissues and nerves within. This makes your tooth vulnerable to bacteria that can cause infections, as well as creating sensitivity to temperature and touch, and can even cause difficulty chewing properly and losing nutrients.
There are bacteria living in your mouth, which concentrate in hard-to-reach places, such as between the teeth and gum line. When you eat foods that contain sugars and starches, the bacteria in the mouth break down those foods into their components, resulting in acids binding to the plaque already on the teeth and eat away at their enamel.
Types of cavities
Root cavities – Occurs when cavities form on the root surfaces of teeth.
Pit and fissure cavities – Areas of decay in the narrow grooves on the biting surfaces of molars.
Smooth-surface cavities – Slow-growing areas of decay on the flat, smooth surfaces of teeth.
How do you treat cavities?
Cavities are usually treated with fillings. The holes in the tooth enamel are reinforced with various substances. This halts the process of decay by sealing out any further bacteria and acids from accessing the weak part of the tooth. Fillings can be made of composite resin, amalgamated metals, gold, silver, or glass ionomer. Dr. Hoffert will consult with you to decide which route would work best for your teeth.
- Composite Dental Fillings – Composite fillings are placed in a single visit and are used to treat teeth with minor tooth decay.
- Porcelain Dental Fillings – Called inlays or onlays, these types of restorations are generally used when there is more significant tooth decay.
- Root Canal – If the tooth decay has advanced and is causing an infection at the root of the tooth, you may need a root canal. This procedure is the best way to treat a diseased tooth and can help you avoid tooth extraction.
How to prevent cavities
As with most things, it’s easier to maintain something than to fix it once it breaks. It’s the same with your teeth. Brushing after meals or at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste can remove the plaque that may have formed. Dentists also recommend cutting down on carbohydrates and hydrating properly. A dry mouth accelerates the breakdown of your teeth by the acids from the foods you eat. Daily flossing can help clear away the plaque and prevent the formation of cavities in those difficult-to-reach spaces between your teeth.
If you already have cavities or if your teeth are showing signs of decay, Dr. Hoffert offers a range of general dentistry services to restore stability to the tooth and provide protection from future damage or decay.
Call or schedule a consultation with Dr. Hoffert at Red Maple Dental if you think you might have a cavity, would like a cleaning to prevent them, or have any other dental concerns.