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Proper Dental Care for Cavities and FIllings

Tooth decay is difficult to prevent, even with good oral hygiene. This is because there are many hard-to-reach areas where plaque can form. Over time, plaque buildup can become destructive to tooth surfaces and create a cavity.

Teeth cleanings involve the removal of plaque from the teeth. The primary reason for them is to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. They are recommended at least once a year, but many people do not have their teeth cleaned as often as they should. Other at-home activities like brushing teeth and flossing are also often neglected. A common result of improper tooth care is a cavity. People sometimes get cavities even though they brush and floss regularly. This is because there are many hard-to-reach surfaces on the teeth, including pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces. Most cavities form in areas where brushing does not reach. 

A cavity is caused by caries, which is one of the most common diseases worldwide. Caries is a disease in which bacteria in the mouth cause the carbohydrates in food to turn into acid. The acid demineralizes the tooth structure. Tooth enamel is primarily composed of minerals, and with dental caries, enough enamel is removed over time to form a hole, or cavity. If the process is stopped before a cavity forms, it can be reversed. Once a cavity has formed, though, there is no way to regenerate the lost tooth structure. 

The first sign of caries is a chalky white spot on the surface of the tooth. The spot may change to brown and become soft to touch as the disease progresses. The cavity becomes more visible as the enamel and underlying dentin are destroyed. The dentin layer contains passages that lead to the tooth nerve. When the cavity reaches this layer, it can cause pain. Typically the pain is worse when the tooth is exposed to sweet foods and beverages, or heat and cold. Early detection and treatment of a cavity is usually not as costly or painful as it will be later. In order to diagnose a cavity, the dentist inspects all the visible surfaces of the teeth using a mirror and dental explorer. A dental explorer is a device with a sharp point at the end, which can be used to perform a tactile inspection. The dentist may also use x-rays of the teeth to identify caries.

Once a cavity has been detected, treatment is necessary to prevent further decay. The most common form of treatment is a filling or restoration. First, the dentist uses a drill to remove the decayed portions of the tooth. Once the decay is removed and the area is cleaned, a restorative material is used to fill the area. The filling prevents further decay by closing off areas that bacteria can enter. Filling materials include amalgam, gold, porcelain and composite resin. For fillings in front teeth, tooth-colored materials like porcelain and composite resin are used for aesthetic purposes. If the decay is too severe and there is not enough remaining structure, the tooth may need a crown instead of a filling. The crown simply fits over the remainder of the tooth’s structure.

The best way to prevent a cavity is through good oral hygiene practices. This includes brushing and flossing teeth daily. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. Another preventive measure is limiting sugar intake by refraining from frequent snacking. Professional cleanings performed in a dentist’s office can help prevent cavitiesFind Article, but can also ensure early detection and treatment when there is a cavity. 

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