About cavities and its harms
A cavity, commonly known as tooth decay, is caused by bacteria found in plaque (a sticky combination of bacteria, saliva, acid and food particles). This bacteria feeds on sugars we ingest and secretes an acid that breaks down our tooth structure, creating a hole or cavity in the tooth.
Dental decay usually does not cause pain in the beginning so you may not realize that it exists. Decay can sometimes be present underneath the superficial tooth enamel layer for some time before an actual cavity is noticed. It also frequently starts in places where food usually gets trapped, such as between the gaps of teeth. This makes it difficult for one to detect decay easily, despite diligent personal oral hygiene. Regular dental check-ups can help identify cavities during their early stages, allowing us to treat them before they damage even more tooth structure.
Below are some common symptoms that one might experience when they have tooth decay:
- Toothache that occurs without apparent cause
- Tooth sensitivity
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, sour, hot or cold
- Pain when you bite down
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth
- Uneven discoloration, shadowing or staining on the surface of a tooth
- Food frequently getting caught in the same area
Why should I treat cavities
When left untreated, small cavities gradually become bigger.
The decayed areas of the tooth remain exposed to bacteria which thrives on food particles that can get stuck in the pits. Decay can spread rapidly through the enamel to dentin layer, and eventually to the dental pulp. When this occurs, the discomfort experienced becomes more frequent and intense. The treatment options will then get more complex and costly.
Therefore, it is advised to get a dental filling done as soon as possible if required.
Yes. Although most patients find the discomfort bearable, everyone’s pain threshold, extent of decay and situation is different. You may opt for local anesthetic for a pain-free experience.
Yes, and as soon as possible!
While an early decayed tooth may not be giving you much trouble yet, do not be tempted to put off getting your filling done as tooth decay does not repair itself and can quickly become a much more complex and costly problem to fix! If left untreated, a small hole in your tooth can quickly grow and eventually cause the nerves in the dental pulp to get inflammed, causing intensified pain. Once this happens, your condition may require a root canal or extraction.
This depends on many factors. Some of which are as follows:
- Size of the cavity. Generally speaking, the more healthy tooth structure there is remaining, the better the chances are of retaining the filling in the long run.
- Type of material chosen. Both tooth-colored and amalgam fillings have good longevity. However, there are certain cases which call for one material to be chosen over another, such as aesthetics for a front tooth.
- Vitality of the tooth. Root canal treated teeth tend to be weaker than vital teeth and are more prone to fracturing.
- Oral hygiene and decay risk. The filled tooth will not last as long if it is in an environment where it is constantly being challenged by sugars and acids.
We have a variety of high-quality materials available, for example amalgam, resin composite and glass-ionomer cements.
While dental fillings tend to stay intact for a long time, they do not last forever. Eventually, all fillings need to be replaced. Some possible reasons to get a filling replaced are:
- Worn out or chipped filling
- New decay has formed
- Remaining tooth structure has broken down
Fillings that have worn away, chipped, cracked or fallen out may leave gaps between the tooth and the filling. This provides an entry point for bacteria, consequently causing another decay. It can also be a source of sensitivity and discomfort.
Below are some signs that your filling may need replacement:
- The filling has chipped or cracked
- You experience toothaches
- You feel pain when you drink sweet, sour, cold or hot beverages
- Your old filling has changed colour
- The filling has fallen out
If you experience any of the above, ensure that your tooth filling is being checked out by a dentist to assess if it needs to be replaced. You may contact our clinic to make an appointment!