Cavities and Fillings
What is tooth decay, and what causes it?
Our teeth are coated in a sticky layer of bacteria, called plaque. This layer of bacteria, when left unchecked, secretes acid, which over time breaks down the tooth, resulting in a cavity, or hole. Decay commonly occurs in crevices between teeth, in grooves, and on roots that become exposed by gum recession. It may also occur beneath existing fillings and crowns.
How do you treat cavities?
Unfortunately, there is no way to regenerate the tooth lost to decay. Once a cavity has formed, the only way to prevent further expansion of the cavity is to remove the decay and replace it with a filling. At Valley View Dental Care, Dr. Barrientos uses resin-based composite fillings for small cavities. If the cavity is large, it will be too big for a filling to hold, and will need a crown (take a look at our crowns and bridges page if you have any questions). If the cavity gets deep enough to infect the root of the tooth, it may need a root canal. Whenever a cavity forms, it is best to treat it soon, since larger cavities require treatments that are more invasive and more expensive. Whenever possible, we aim to maintain as much natural tooth as possible, which means catching cavities early.
Of course, the best strategy is prevention!
While there are several approaches to treating cavities, the best tactic is to avoid them in the first place. This is done by flossing, brushing your teeth twice a day, and avoiding sugary, acidic foods. If you do eat anything acidic or sugary, drink or rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Additionally, we recommend at least two cleanings per year with a dental hygienist. Patients prone to buildup may need more than two per year, depending on the status of their oral health. Professional cleanings remove plaque buildup, keeping your teeth healthy and cavity-free.