General dentistry focuses on preventing issues like tooth decay and gum disease. It also includes performing treatments to help fix and repair damaged teeth.
A cavity is a tiny opening that develops on teeth due to acids made by oral bacteria demineralizing them. Cavities cannot resolve themselves. Dentists treat them by removing decayed material from the tooth and sealing it up with filling. The filling serves as a barrier that prevents bacteria and the acids that they make from getting into the cavity and expanding it further. Without general dentistry treatments, a cavity will continuously expand until it opens up the tooth’s pulp chamber, making it vulnerable to infection, or forces the tooth to fall out of its socket.
How general dentistry deals with cavities
Most people will have to get treatment for cavities at some point in their lives. It is caused by bacteria converting sugars in the mouth into acids that eat away at teeth, and many foods and beverages contain sugar. Good oral hygiene helps limit sugars, bacteria, and acids in the mouth, but it does not provide complete protection against tooth decay.
General dentists aim to protect their patients against cavities while providing treatments for any ongoing decay. Ways that a dentist might help protect their patients’ teeth against decay include the following:
This involves immersing the patient’s teeth in a fluoride-infused product to re-mineralize them. The treatment can be completed in a few minutes, and it protects teeth from decay for up to six months. Fluoride treatments can also be used to reverse the de-mineralization stage of tooth decay.
These involve covering teeth with a transparent or tooth-colored resin that prevents acids and bacteria from making contact with their biting surfaces. Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to five years. They are typically recommended for molars.
These treatments are performed during routine dental appointments, and they involve removing tartar and plaque from teeth surfaces. It protects the teeth against tooth decay and gum disease, and it can help reverse gingivitis.
A general dentist can also help restore teeth that have already been impacted by decay. Ways that a dentist can fix tooth decay include:
- Fillings: This is the standard treatment for cavities because it involves removing decayed material from a tooth and using filling material to close up the cavity; composite fillings are the most common type of fillings because they do not contain mercury, like silver amalgam fillings, and they can be color-matched with the patient’s teeth
- Crowns: Crowns are usually recommended for severely decayed teeth; a crown covers up the visible part of the tooth, preventing acids in the mouth from damaging it further
- Root canal: This treatment is recommended when decay leaves a tooth’s pulp chamber compromised; it involves removing the tooth’s pulp and sealing it up with gutta-percha
Fix decay before it causes problems
Are you dealing with tooth decay? Call or visit our Oak Brook clinic to set up an appointment with our dentist and explore treatment options.
Request an appointment or call Metcalf Dental at 630-203-9779 for an appointment in our Oak Brook office.
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