More than 3 million people each year have to have cavities treated. They’re very common, and are relatively easy to treat when they’re caught in time. Generally, the decay is removed with a drill, and a filling replaces the missing tooth material. However, cavities can form on any surface of the tooth. So if you have a smaller mouth, or the cavity is at the very back of the mouth, this can make the traditional treatment a bit more difficult.
Treating a cavity that’s hard to reach
There are a couple of different ways to treat a cavity:
- Fluoride treatments
- Root canals
If the cavity is caught very early, fluoride treatments can help restore your tooth’s enamel. You’ll be given a liquid, gel, or foam that is either brushed onto your teeth, or placed in trays that sit on your teeth. It’s left on for a few moments each day, and that’s all there is to it, no matter where the tooth is located.
The typical cavity treatment, a filling, may be impossible depending on the cavity’s location; for instance, if the cavity is located on the backside of your 2nd molar (the last one if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed). The most common filling nowadays, a white composite resin, requires exposure to a dental curing light to finish hardening. So if your cavity is at the very back of your mouth, it’s going to be difficult to get that light back there!
If the cavity proves to be impossible to traditionally fill, you can have a crown put on the tooth. Crowns are typically reserved for when the tooth is extensively decayed or weakened, but they can be used in other instances. Your dentist will take a mold of your bite, then remove all of the decay, as well as some of the healthy tooth, in order to ensure that the crown will fit properly. You’ll be given a temporary crown until your custom one is finished. Then the temporary crown is removed and you’re fitted with the permanent one!
The bad news: crowns are a lot more expensive than fillings. So if budget is a factor (or you just don’t want to have a crown put on), you can choose to have the tooth removed. Keep in mind, when a tooth is removed, other teeth may shift and cause additional problems. A bridge or a dental implant will prevent other teeth from moving.
This is why it’s so critical to maintain proper dental hygiene and regular dental checkups. The sooner a problem is caught, the less involved the treatment will be. Call Dr. Chauvin to schedule an appointment!