Cavities are one of the most common dental maladies we deal with on a daily basis at this Jacksonville, Florida dental practice. Understanding how these areas of decay develop is key in not only treating cavities but preventing them as well. Cavities are largely preventable with proper oral hygiene, but the trained eye of an experienced dentist can help patients achieve a level of oral health that can keep their teeth free of cavities, and the rest of their oral tissues free of inflammation as well.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are areas of decay that develop as a result of enamel erosion. Our teeth are made up of three layers of tissue, the outermost is called enamel and it is the strongest substance in all the body. Many things can cause the enamel to erode, but the main culprit is sugar. Sugar not only provides quick energy for our bodies, but it is also food for the harmful bacteria in the mouth. When this bacteria digests sugars it creates an acidic environment in the mouth which enables the erosion of enamel. Once the enamel has been breached, this acidic environment travels into the dentin where the bacteria can begin to decay the dentin, the next layer of tooth tissue, and eventually the pulp, or innermost layer and nerve center, of the tooth. Once decay has reached the pulp the cavity is severe and must be treated by a skilled Jacksonville, dentist.
Diagnosing a Cavity
Often the first person to notice a cavity is a patient. You’ll feel sensitivity in a tooth where there was none before. Depending on how long this pain persists, a patient may or may not alert their dentist. As your Jacksonville, Florida dentist we hope that every patient sees us every six months, this way we can treat cavities and areas of erosion before they make their way to the pulp of the tooth. When you feel sensitivity it is important to schedule an appointment. When you see your dentist regularly she may be able to detect the beginning of cavities sooner than you can feel them with radiographic technology and a seasoned eye. Digital imaging is enabling dentists, like Dr. Shields to see the smallest areas of erosion and treat them before they even develop into cavities. By seeing your dentist regularly, you can ensure that your teeth are healthy and treated as soon as possible to avoid further, costly dental work.
Cavities have been plaguing mankind for as long as we have had teeth. In ancient times teeth were simply pulled when they cause a person pain. With the discovery of mercury-amalgam fillings doctors were able to pack the cavities and stop the pain. However, ever since this technology has been in use, its safety has been largely questioned. This Jacksonville, Florida dental practice does not believe amalgam is safe to use on our patients and will also safely remove and replace these fillings with composite resin. Today composite resin has taken over as the cavity filling substance of choice, because it is non-toxic, durable, aesthetic, and requires only removal of decayed tooth tissue before it is bonded into place.
When your Jacksonville, Florida dentist discovers a cavity at your check up, she will be able to fill it that same day. First she will remove the decayed portion of the tooth. She will then fill the cavity with composite resin which will be bonded with a special UV light. The filling will stay in place for many years to come. This method of cavity filling relieves all pain and prevents further decay from developing.
If tooth decay has been allowed to make its way deep into the tooth and infect the pulp, the only way to fill this cavity is a root canal. This is an invasive procedure where your Jacksonville, Florida dentist will need to remove the infected pulp of the tooth. In some cases she will be able to fill this void with composite resin to seal the tooth and prevent further decay. In some cases she may need to remove much of the tooth and replace it with a dental crown. If you wish to avoid a root canal, it is important that you seek the help of your dentist when you feel a new sensitivity in your teeth. Even better, you can keep up on your twice yearly appointments to ensure Dr.Shields can catch and treat a cavity before it develops further.
Cavities are small spots of erosion that can develop into big problems if left unchecked. To prevent cavities it is extremely important limit the amount of sugar you consume, but to also practice impeccable oral hygiene. By brushing twice each day for two minutes and flossing every day, you can remove the bacteria that causes cavities to develop. Follow that up with twice-yearly visits to your Jacksonville, Florida dentist and you can ensure that your teeth remain in total health for your whole life.