You’ve heard the word a hundred times — and you might have been treated for one or two as a child — but do you really know what a cavity is?
A cavity is a permanently damaged area on your tooth that morphs into a tiny hole — or opening — on the hard surface of a tooth.
What causes cavities?
If you end up with a cavity, fear not. You’re not alone, and it’s not the end of the world. In fact, cavities are one of the world’s most prevalent health issues. Cavities are caused by a number of things, including:
- Bacteria in your mouth
- Lack of adequate oral care (not brushing and/or flossing your teeth enough)
- Too many sugary beverages
- Too many sugary snacks
Typically, dentists can fix cavities pretty easily. But if left untreated, they can cause an infection in your mouth — or tooth loss.
What are the symptoms of a cavity?
Often, if the cavity is new or not severe, you won’t have any symptoms. But as the cavity persists, you might experience:
- Tooth pain
- Sensitive teeth (sensitive to hot or cold food or beverages)
- Holes or pits in your teeth (that you can see with the naked eye)
- Stains on your teeth
How is a cavity treated?
A cavity is typically “filled” by a dentist in a relatively painless and easy fix. There are several types of fillings available, but the most common are amalgam and composite.
Here are the fillings available for cavities:
- Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam fillings are comprised of several different elements, which means they can be noticeable when you laugh or smile — even if they’re in the back of your mouth. They are among the most common — and the least costly — of all the fillings available.
- Composite Fillings: Composite fillings are also known as filled resins. They are a combination of glass or quartz — and they’re popular because they often match the color of your tooth, so they’re not noticeable when you smile.
- Metals: These metals — gold or silver — are used in amalgam fillings. Gold costs roughly 10 times more than silver when it comes to fillings. Although many people aren’t comfortable with shiny metal fillings, they choose them because they’re more durable than other options — they can last more than a decade before needing attention.
- Ceramic: A ceramic filling typically is made with porcelain and, like composites, won’t be noticeable to people when you smile. The difference between porcelain and composite is that the porcelain filling won’t show as many tooth stains over an extended period of time. The drawback: Ceramic fillings can be very expensive.
- Glass Ionomer: A glass lonomer is unique because it releases fluoride, which helps to protect your teeth. Although it helps your teeth while it’s in, a glass lonomer is not as durable as other fillings, so it will need to be replaced sooner.
As you can see, there is no shortage of options on correcting a cavity, and all of them are relatively pain-free and not very time-consuming. Contact Dr. Tim Chauvin’s office today for more information.