Tooth decay is a common problem that, if left unchecked, can eventually lead to tooth loss. The good news is that it’s preventable, treatable, and reversible – though be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible if you think you’re developing tooth decay.
Understanding how a cavity develops
Although it’s often thought that tooth decay primarily affects children, the truth is that anyone who has a natural tooth can potentially develop cavities, also known as dental caries.
To understand the reversal and treatment of tooth decay, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how a cavity develops. Every time you eat or drink foods with sugars or starches, these substances feed the bacteria in your mouth. As the bacteria feast on food debris, they produce acids as a byproduct. The acids attack the enamel, which is the hard, outer layer of each tooth. Consuming foods that are acidic further helps to soften the enamel.
As a result, the enamel loses minerals. This is known as demineralization. If an area of the enamel loses minerals that are not replenished, the tooth develops a white spot. This is the earliest indicator of tooth decay.
If the decay is allowed to progress unchecked, the enamel’s demineralization worsens, and a cavity forms. A cavity is a hole in the tooth. Eventually, the damage can reach the inner layers of the tooth, causing significant problems.
Reversing tooth decay in the earliest stage
It’s possible to reverse tooth decay when it’s in the earliest stage. This is when the white spot appears, but the hole hasn’t formed yet. It’s possible to remineralize the tooth and protect it against cavity formation. To do this, your teeth need fluoride from sources such as fluoride-fortified water, toothpaste, and mouth rinse. Always make sure the oral care products you use carry the ADA seal and contain fluoride.
If you aren’t getting enough fluoride from oral care products and your drinking water, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments, which are applied in the office. Alternatively, your dentist might prescribe fluoride tablets.
Treating tooth decay in the latter stages
If the decay isn’t reversed in the earliest stages and a cavity forms, that cavity will need to be filled by a dentist. Your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Then, the decayed matter will be drilled out. The hole will be filled with a strong material, such as composite resin. Lastly, your dentist will shape and polish the filling and ensure that it doesn’t alter your bite pattern.
Schedule a dental appointment on Long Island today
Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry is pleased to offer emergency dental services to patients with tooth pain from cavities and other causes. We also provide tooth-colored fillings, which are aesthetically superior to metal fillings.
If you believe you might be developing a cavity or you’re experiencing any unusual symptoms related to your oral health, please schedule an appointment promptly. Rapid treatment can often keep oral health problems from getting worse. Call our office in Huntington, Long Island, today.
Additional resources on tooth decay:
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tooth-decay/more-info/tooth-decay-process
- Healthline, Can You Reverse a Cavity? https://www.healthline.com/health/can-you-reverse-a-cavity