You’re due for a dental checkup and everything feels fine. After your teeth have been cleaned and polished, the dentist pops in to examine everything and make sure your teeth and gums are healthy. Unfortunately, he tells you that you have a cavity. You need a filling.
“But My Tooth Doesn’t Hurt”
Not all cavities hurt. In fact, even very large areas of tooth decay can be completely asymptomatic in some cases (such as abscessed teeth that do not hurt.) While tooth sensitivity is a symptom of decay, it’s not the only one.
Watch for other signs, such as:
• Sensitivity when eating specific types of food
• Floss catching between your teeth
• Rough surfaces that you can feel with your tongue
• Discolouration or staining
Cavities Can Spread to Adjacent Teeth
Putting a filling off isn’t detrimental to one tooth, but rather your entire mouth. Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial infection that can spread to adjacent teeth just as much as it can eat its way further into the tooth with the cavity. It’s best to get one tooth filled than to risk the structural integrity of the neighbouring (or even opposing) teeth inside of your mouth.
Filling Today, or a Crown Tomorrow
Cavities do not repair themselves. While they can sometimes be delayed from spreading, they will gradually get worse. A small area of tooth decay can almost always be filled, but once it gets worse, having a filling placed is no longer an option. It would only break the tooth apart further, after everyday biting and chewing.
Once that happens, your tooth needs more than a filling; a crown is usually the next appropriate step. Crowns cover your tooth above the gum-line, protecting the compromised enamel and dentin structures left behind.
Will Tooth Enamel Repair Itself?
There are a lot of things on the internet these days that claim to reverse cavities or offer DIY treatment for fillings. The truth is that decay can only be reversed when it is in the very earliest stages of enamel demineralization. These surfaces are usually a chalky white, etched appearance. When we remineralize the enamel with fluoride, it can reabsorb many of the minerals that are lost, making the tooth resistant to cavities and preventing the decay from spreading.
However, any cavity that goes beyond surface demineralization and compromises the outer layer of enamel cannot be reversed.
Stopping Cavities Before They Start
Most cavities are preventable with good dietary choices and home care. Daily flossing, brushing along the gum lines, routine dental checkups and fluoride treatments keep teeth strong and make them more resistant to cavities.
But even if you do find that you get your first cavity, having it filled doesn’t have to be a bad experience. At SmileWork Dental Centre in Stouffville, ON, our family dentists are here to ensure a comfortable and efficient experience for every patient. Whether it’s you that needs a filling or one of your children, you’ll be in great hands! Call us today to get started.