Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a common dental problem that occurs when the hard tissues of the tooth are damaged by acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. Tooth decay starts with the presence of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If tooth decay is left untreated, the acids continue to penetrate the tooth, reaching the underlying dentin layer, which is softer and more susceptible to decay. As the decay progresses, it forms a cavity, a small hole or pit in the tooth. If the decay reaches the innermost layer of the tooth called the pulp, it can cause severe pain, infection, and potential tooth loss.
How do dentists treat tooth decay?
The chicago dentists have several treatment options to address tooth decay, and the specific approach depends on the extent and severity of the decay. Here are common methods used by dentists to treat tooth decay:
Fillings. It is the most common treatment for cavities. The dentist removes the decayed portion of the tooth and fills the space with dental filling material, such as composite resin, amalgam, or porcelain.
Crowns. When a significant portion of the tooth is damaged or decayed, a crown may be necessary. The dentist removes the decayed portion and reshapes the tooth to accommodate a dental crown. The crown, typically made of porcelain, metal, or a combination of materials, is custom-made to fit over the tooth and restore its strength, shape, and appearance.
Root canal therapy. If the decay reaches the pulp of the tooth and causes infection or severe pain, a root canal may be performed. The dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp, cleans the root canals, and seals them. Afterwards, a crown is often placed to protect and restore the tooth.
Dental bonding. For minor decay or small cavities, dental bonding may be an option. The dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material to the affected area and shapes it to match the tooth’s natural appearance. The material is then hardened and polished, providing a natural-looking restoration.
Dental inlays or onlays. In cases where the decay or damage is too extensive for a filling but not severe enough for a crown, inlays or onlays may be used. These are custom-made restorations that fit into or onto the affected tooth, respectively. They are often made of porcelain or composite resin and are cemented in place to restore the tooth’s structure.
Regular dental check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene are crucial for identifying and addressing tooth decay in its early stages.