When the dentist finds a cavity in your tooth, this means that you have a hole in your tooth that is full of acid-producing bacteria working to make the hole even bigger. It is the dentist’s job to remove the damaged tooth structure and to put in a filling to replace the part of the tooth that was removed.
HOW IS A CAVITY TREATED?
A filling is like a puzzle piece that the dentist shapes to fit the hole in your tooth. Sometimes, the damage to your tooth can be so extensive that the bacteria can reach the inner layer of your tooth, the nerve and blood vessel filled “pulp”, and cause severe pain and infection. In this case, your tooth can be saved with a root canal, which is a procedure where the affected pulp is removed from your tooth in order to get you out of pain and to prevent you from losing your tooth. However, if the tooth decay is too large the dentist may not be able to salvage your tooth and it may need to be extracted to get you out of pain. Good home care such as brushing and flossing will help minimize your risk for decay and help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.
It is important to know that even though you may have had your teeth “fixed” by your dentist in the past, you are actually more likely to get a new cavity around a filling than in a healthy tooth. Even though it is the dentist’s job to help to fix your teeth, it is still just as important for you take good care of the work they have done by keeping your teeth clean and healthy.
Written by Dr. Alicia Cook