Comprehensive Family Dentistry: Do I need a filling?
Do I really need a filling?
Unlike gum disease, which has clear symptoms from the onset, cavities don’t always show signs or symptoms when present. This is because the nerve of your tooth is embedded in the pulp, which lies closer to the roots of your teeth than the top of them. So when a cavity begins in your enamel — the outer layer of your tooth — there won’t be any pain associated with cavity. This is why it is important to continually go to your dentist for regular checkups. When a cavity is just beginning, often times the only way to spot it is with x-rays and other special equipment available to family dentistry.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is tooth decay. It’s an area of the tooth that, due to the bacteria, plaque, and tartar in your mouth, has begun to rot away. It’s important to recognize and understand a cavity as a disease and not just tooth damage. Cavities are continually growing and spreading. This means that even a small cavity can turn into a big problem. Cavities are active infestations of bacteria that will borough deep into the pulp and nerves of your teeth if given the time to do so. Cavities can even cause further complications within your jawbone should they be untreated for a long enough time.
How can I treat a cavity?
Unfortunately, the only way to treat a cavity is to remove it. What becomes of primary importance, then, is to remove it as soon as possible. Removal of early stage cavities is much easier than late stage ones. Family dentistry is able to remove an afflicted area by drilling it out of the tooth and sealing the space with a filling or restoration that best matches the color of your teeth. Should a cavity progress too far and infect the pulp and nerves of your tooth, endodontic therapy, also known as a root canal, will be needed. The procedure for a root canal involves the removal of the infected pulp generally followed by the need for a crown, also known as a “cap”, to stabilize the tooth and aid in withstanding chewing forces.
How can I know if I have a cavity?
The easiest way to know is by taking an x-ray of your mouth. However, there are multiple signs you can look for at home that could mean you have a cavity. Sensitivity to pressure, to air breathed through the mouth, and to heat or cold are some. Others are a brown or black spot on your tooth, Halitosis (bad breath), jaw ache, earache, bleeding and/or swelling around the tooth, and toothache in the later stages. A cavity is an active bacterial disease. Should you suspect you have a cavity, see your family dentist as soon as possible to ensure that, if you do have one, you prevent the disease from spreading any further.
While you may not feel any pain, a cavity can still be present. Family dentistry’s first priority is to upkeep your oral hygiene to help ensure you don’t get a cavity. Cavities are progressive diseases that, if left untreated, can cause serious issues and complications. In light of this, you should consult your dentist should you suspect a cavity, and treat it sooner rather than later.