Tooth Decay and Cavities | Dentist Sandy Springs

Mature woman smiling
Regular Check ups can preserve that youthful smile.

Tooth decay can happen to anyone.  Left untreated, cavities can become infected and eventually, result in tooth loss.  Don’t wait for a toothache to start taking care of your teeth.  By practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups, you can protect yourself from tooth decay.

Perhaps there’s a need to have a better understanding of tooth decay. It begins with the normal bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria feed on food particles in your mouth and produce acid as a byproduct. The combination of bacteria, food debris, acid, and saliva in your mouth forms a filmy substance on your teeth called plaque.  If the plaque isn’t removed promptly, tooth decay will begin. Eventually, the plaque hardens into a mineral-like substance known as tartar, which without professional care is much harder to remove. Both tartar and plaque can eventually lead to the gum diseases known as gingivitis and periodontitis.

In addition to gum disease, plaque build-up also affects the protective enamel surface on your teeth, leading to cavities.  Without treatment, cavities grow larger and eventually compromise the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth.  If an abscess or other infection develops in the tooth it more than likely will result in the destruction, and probably the loss of your tooth.

The culprits in this scenario are starches and sugars we eat. In addition, sticky foods also promote cavities as they adhere to the surface of the teeth and facilitate bacterial activity.  Generally, if you snack a lot, you’re at higher risk of developing cavities from the plaque formed from poor eating and oral habits.

Although cavities are more common in younger people, adults aren’t immune.  Older fillings often deteriorate and allow bacteria to accumulate, resulting in additional tooth decay.

Most cavities are found early during regular dental checkups, but you have to show up for those checkups.  Sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods and drinks may also alert you to a possible cavity.  If you notice tooth sensitivity or pain, it’s morel than likely time to visit your dentist for an oral exam.

Once a cavity is found, treatment options include either a filling, crown or root canal therapy, depending on the degree of decay. If caught early enough the most common cavity treatment is a filling.  If you waited until you had pain, and your cavity is severe, a crown may be necessary to restore the tooth.  If decay has spread to the tooth’s root, a root canal may be required. In this procedure, the nerve tissue is removed and sealed.  Then either a permanent filling is placed or a crown may be necessary as well.

So what should you do?  The best way to prevent decay and other dental issues associated with tooth decay is to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly. If you experience tooth sensitivity, make an appointment to see your dentist sooner than later.  With proper dental examinations we can eliminate problems before they start. Don’t let your dental hygiene disrupt your lifestyle, contact us now.

ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD

Hanna Orland, DMD

290 Carpenter Drive, 200B

Atlanta, GA 30328

404-256-3620

www.rightsmilecenter.com

info@rightsmilecenter.com

Dentist Alpharetta: Cavities FAQs

no-cavitiesMost of us have had at least one.  Some of us couldn’t help ourselves and have quite a few. So what makes cavities so persistent? Usually, the answer is simple: not enough brushing your teeth, flossing and visiting the dentist.  Snacking on sweets and slurping sodas doesn’t help either.  Even healthy cran-raisins are a culprit in the cause of cavities[1].  But rather than feel guilty, get informed and do some things to prevent cavities.

Q: What’s the difference between tooth decay and tooth cavity?

A: Good question! Most people think tooth decay and tooth cavity are the same thing. But they’re not. Tooth decay refers to a gradual process during which bacteria in the mouth produce acids that destroy the surfaces of teeth. Over time, tooth decay can erode enamel to the point that a hole, or cavity, forms.

Q: Can I get cavities from kissing?

A: Actually, you can.  But I am not sure if that’s a reason to give up kissing.  You might try brushing more frequently to disrupt the decaying process and keep kissing[2]!

Q: How do I know if I have cavities?

A: Cavities are one of the first things your dentist looks for during a regular dental exam. X-rays allow your dentist to diagnose whether you have dental cavities and how extensive they are.  Other methods of discovery come from the probing in the top surfaces of the tooth[3] for ‘stickiness’.  Sometimes a tooth cavity is visible to the naked eye, but that may mean you haven’t seen your dentist in a while.[4]

Q: How do dentists treat dental cavities?

A: Treatment depends on the size of the cavity and the degree of damage.   Although many dental cavities are treated with fillings, onlays may be necessary to treat large cavities affecting the cusps of teeth, while cavities affecting the areas in between the cusps may be treated with inlays. In some cases, dental crowns are used to protect a tooth from further tooth decay. Dental sealants are often applied to children’s and adult’s teeth as a preventative measure against cavities.

Still have questions about cavities or other dental problems? Your dentist will be happy to answer them during your next checkup or give us a call or email.

Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC

290 Carpenter Drive, 200A

Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328

404-256-3620

Info@rightsmilecenter.com

www.rightsmilecenter.com

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[1] Raisins stick to your tooth, ergo bacteria attachment site.

[2] Kissing has a lot of immune building advantages.  There are costs and benefits to everything.

[3] In between the cusps of the tooth.

[4] If you see black holes in your teeth, those could be signs. Another cavity red flag is a toothache or sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks.