According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just about everyone will eventually have a cavity (tooth decay) at some point in their life.
In fact, the CDC considers dental caries (the medical term for cavities) to be the most common chronic disease in American children, surpassing even asthma! Caries doesn’t go away when you become an adult either; in fact, 9 out of 10 adults over the age of 20 have some level of decay.
Here’s some good news for you, though.
The rate of cavities has significantly decreased over time, particularly in areas where tap water is fluoridated. You can also reduce your risk of cavities with excellent home hygiene, regular visits to our office, and preventive treatments like fluoride varnish or dental sealants.
If you do happen to develop a cavity, don’t worry. We’ll take care of it for you. And unlike in the past when fillings were made with silver-colored metal amalgam, today we offer tooth-colored fillings made of a composite resin. Nobody ever needs to know that you have had a cavity!
What Is a Cavity?
Most people associate cavities with too much sugar. This is only part of the story, however. Tooth decay is actually caused by bacteria that live in your mouth.
You normally have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Some are helpful and some aren’t. Bacteria eat sugar molecules and then excrete acid. It’s these acids that are actually responsible for breaking down your dental enamel and creating the holes and pits that we refer to as cavities.
The decay-causing bacteria can actually be transmitted from person to person, which is why the CDC considers dental caries to be a disease (and a good reason to never share your toothbrush with anyone!).
Brushing and flossing help prevent cavities by removing the sticky film called plaque from your teeth. Plaque is made up of saliva, food particles, and bacteria. When plaque is allowed to stick around, it keeps the bacteria in close contact with your enamel and eventually hardens into tartar (or calculus), which can only be removed with professional instruments.
How Do We Treat Cavities?
To treat a cavity, we have to remove the damaged portion of your tooth. We then restore the damaged portion of your tooth with a filling.
Metal amalgam fillings have been used to treat cavities for more than a century, and they were useful in their time. Today, however, we have a better way.
Composite resin can be blended to perfectly match the natural shade of your enamel, but that isn’t the only reason dentists and patients prefer composite fillings. Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings actually bond to your tooth structure. This means that we can preserve more of your healthy tooth structure, which is better for your teeth in the long run.
Call for a Check-Up
One of the biggest problems with cavities is that they don’t hurt until it's too late. This means that most people don’t realize they have tooth decay until it has done serious damage to their tooth. Regular check-ups help us identify issues like cavities early, before they hurt, so we can put a stop to them before they cause damage.
If you’re due for a check-up, please call our office that’s most convenient for you and schedule an appointment! We’re looking forward to seeing you!