What Do Dentists Do to Cavities

May 28, 2024, Pearl Shine Dental Clinic

What Do Dentists Do to Cavities
What Do Dentists Do to Cavities
Dental health is crucial for overall well-being, and one of the most common dental issues people face is cavities.

Dental health is crucial for overall well-being, and one of the most common dental issues people face is cavities. But what exactly do dentists do to treat cavities? In this article, we’ll explore the process from detection to treatment, and preventive measures to keep your teeth healthy. Let's dive in!

What Are Cavities?

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. They are caused by a combination of factors including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well.

Symptoms of Cavities:

  • Toothache or spontaneous pain
  • Sensitivity to sweet, hot, or cold foods and drinks
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Staining on the surface of a tooth
  • Pain when you bite down

How Do Dentists Detect Cavities?

Visual Examination:

Dentists use a small mirror to inspect all surfaces of your teeth, looking for visible signs of decay.

Dental X-rays:

X-rays can reveal cavities developing between teeth and under the gum line, areas not visible during a standard exam.

Cavity Detection Dyes:

These dyes are applied to your teeth during an exam and adhere to decayed areas, making cavities easier to spot.

Laser Fluorescence Devices:

These tools can detect the presence of cavities by measuring changes in the fluorescence of your tooth enamel.

Initial Assessment and Diagnosis

When you visit a dentist with concerns about cavities, the process begins with a thorough assessment.

Patient History:

Your dentist will ask about your dental history, dietary habits, and symptoms to understand the potential risk factors for cavities.

Dental Charting:

This involves recording the state of each tooth in your mouth, noting any existing fillings, crowns, or other dental work, as well as any signs of decay.

Assessment of Cavity Severity:

Dentists determine the severity of the cavity to decide the appropriate treatment. This can range from early enamel damage to deep decay reaching the tooth’s pulp.

Treatment Options for Cavities

Fluoride Treatments:

In the early stages, cavities can sometimes be reversed with fluoride treatments that restore tooth enamel.

Dental Fillings:

If the decay has progressed, a filling is necessary. The decayed part of the tooth is removed, and the cavity is filled with a material like composite resin, amalgam, gold, or porcelain.

Types of Filling Materials:

  • Composite Resin: Tooth-colored and used for visible teeth.
  • Amalgam: Silver-colored and used for molars.
  • Gold and Porcelain: Durable and often used for large fillings.

Procedure for Placing Fillings:

  1. Local anesthesia is applied.
  2. The decayed tooth material is removed.
  3. The cavity is cleaned and disinfected.
  4. The filling material is applied in layers and hardened.
  5. The filling is shaped and polished.


Dental Crowns:

When a tooth is severely decayed or weakened, a crown may be required. Crowns are custom-fitted caps placed over the tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength.

When Crowns Are Needed:

  • Extensive decay that weakens the tooth
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Following root canal treatment

Crown Placement Process:

  • The tooth is reshaped to accommodate the crown.
  • An impression of the tooth is made.
  • A temporary crown is placed.
  • The permanent crown is cemented in place during a follow-up visit.

Root Canal Therapy:

If decay reaches the tooth’s pulp, a root canal may be necessary. This treatment involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning the canals, and sealing them to prevent further infection.

Indications for Root Canals:

  • Deep decay
  • Infected or abscessed tooth
  • Severe tooth pain

Steps Involved in Root Canal Treatment:

  • Local anesthesia is applied.
  • An opening is made in the tooth.
  • Infected pulp is removed.
  • Canals are cleaned and shaped.
  • Canals are filled and sealed.
  • A crown may be placed for additional protection.

Tooth Extraction:
In cases where the tooth is too damaged to be saved, extraction is the last resort.

When Extraction Is Necessary:

  • Severe decay
  • Tooth infection not manageable with root canal
  • Crowding in the mouth

Post-Extraction Care:

  • Follow dentist’s instructions for care
  • Manage pain with prescribed medications
  • Avoid smoking and rigorous activities
  • Preventive Measures Post-Treatment

Importance of Oral Hygiene:
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using mouthwash can prevent new cavities from forming.

Dietary Recommendations:
Reduce sugary and acidic food and drink intake, eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits, and drink plenty of water.

Regular Dental Check-ups:
Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings to catch any potential issues early.

Innovations in Cavity Treatment

Laser Dentistry:

Lasers can remove decay precisely and are less invasive than traditional drills.

Ozone Therapy:
Ozone gas can kill bacteria and promote healing in early-stage cavities.

Remineralization Techniques:
These involve applying substances that encourage the natural repair of enamel before cavities develop fully.

Common Myths About Cavities

Sugar Is the Only Cause:

While sugar plays a big role, any carbohydrate can contribute to tooth decay.

Only Children Get Cavities:
Cavities can affect anyone, regardless of age, though children and seniors are at higher risk.

Cavities Always Cause Pain:
Not all cavities cause discomfort, which is why regular dental visits are important for early detection.

Cavities are a common but preventable dental issue. Dentists have a variety of tools and treatments at their disposal to manage cavities effectively. By understanding the process and taking preventive measures, you can maintain a healthy smile. For personalized dental care and expert cavity treatment, visit Insight Dental Group of Houston.


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