Updated: Jun 30, 2021
Visiting a dentist immediately upon noticing changes in your teeth that look like trouble, is ideal to keep your teeth in good shape. Cavities or dental caries will eventually lead to tooth loss, but the sooner you fix it, the stronger are your chances in reversing the effects of tooth decay and preventing it from progressing further. The sooner a cavity is treated, the lesser is the pain, and lesser will be modalities of the treatment.
Which treatments are available to fight tooth cavities?
Treatment for cavities or dental caries depends on the severity of the tooth decay. The following lists some treatments depending upon the stage the cavity is in:
Treatment using fluoride
A cavity in a very early stage of progress often finds treatment with the use of fluoride. Use of fluoride helps restore tooth enamel. Based on the situation, and if the cavity is in a very early stage, fluoride can play a role in reversing the cavity itself. At a dentist's place the amount of fluoride used is comparatively greater than that available in tap water, mouth wash, and toothpaste. A dentist will use fluoride either in gel, varnish, foam, or liquid form, and will brush it on to the teeth, or place it in a tray that fits over the teeth.
Use of Fillings
When a cavity has progressed to a stage beyond the early stage, use of restorations will be the need of the hour. Restorations also go by the name of fillings. Numerous materials go into the making of a filling. A filling can be a tooth-colored composite resin, porcelain, or even a dental amalgam.
Crowns and Bridges
When the cavity has progressed to an advanced stage but has yet not affected the inside of a tooth, crowns can be used. The dentist usually drills away the area of the tooth that's decayed to a great extent, and also part of the tooth to enable the fitment of a crown. Crowns can be made to appear like a tooth, and can be made of materials like gold, porcelain, resin, or even porcelain that's fused to a metal.
Root Canal Treatment
In the eventuality that the decaying cavity has reached a stage where the inner side of a tooth, or the pulp, is affected, then a root canal treatment is the only solution. A root canal treatment is the option when there is a need to repair the tooth and save it from removal. As part of RCT, the pulp within the tooth is removed in its entirety. In the presence of an infection, medication is placed within the root canal to clear the infection. Once the infection has cleared, the entire of the root pulp is extracted, and the root canal is filled with a filling. A crown or a bridge is used to give structure to the tooth that was lost to the cavity.
Extraction of a tooth
If the decay of a tooth has progressed to such an extent that even a root canal treatment cannot be performed, then the only solution is to have the tooth extracted. Extraction is often the last resort, and it is resorted to only if there exists no means to save the tooth. Extracting a tooth leaves a gap in the place where a tooth once stood. This space leaves an opportunity for the rest of the teeth to start shifting to fill up the gap, leaving a gap between most of the teeth. This can lead to numerous other problems including 'shaky' teeth in the future. Often, a bridge is used to fill in the gap using the support of the adjacent teeth.