If you have a cavity in a tooth, the tooth should be treated as quickly as possible. Cavities can worsen over time, eventually necessitating increasingly invasive procedures. If the cavity reaches an irreparable state, the affected tooth may have to be extracted.
Cavities occur when the enamel of a tooth is damaged by oral acids. When exposed to acid from oral bacteria or foods and drinks, the minerals within the enamel may dissolve, leaving the tooth material in a weakened state. If enough minerals are dissolved, a hole or cavity may form in the tooth enamel.
To repair a cavity, a dentist may employ several restorative applications. Here are a few of them.
Dental Bonding Material
Dental bonding material is often used to fill cavities that are not deep. If a cavity is just starting to form, the material, which is made of composite resin, can be applied to the damaged area of the tooth.
To prepare the tooth for the placement of the bonding material, the compromised area of the tooth is etched, and an adhesive is applied. The bonding material is then molded to fit the damaged area and pressed onto the tooth. To complete the restoration of the tooth, an ultraviolet light is applied to harden the soft bonding material.
Cavities that are larger in size or depth usually require deeper fillings. In addition to composite resin, fillings can be made of multiple materials, including gold, silver amalgam or porcelain.
Before filling a large cavity, the decayed portion of the tooth is drilled away. The cavity fills the remaining hole and prevents additional decay. The cavity also helps stop the entry of oral microbes that could infect the tooth.
In some cases, a cavity may be so large that the structural integrity of the tooth is jeopardized. To fortify a weakened tooth, a filling alone may not be enough. A dental crown may be required to cover and strengthen the tooth after the application of the filling.
If a filling alone is used, a tooth-colored material, such as porcelain or composite resin, may be preferred. However, if a crown is used in conjunction with the filling, the appearance of the filling material is less important, since the crown will conceal the filling.
If you have a cavity and would like to discuss your treatment options, schedule a consultation with a dentist in your local area.