Proud Smiles provides comprehensive dentistry for the prevention of oral disease. We focus on the maintenance and care of the teeth and gums to promote healthy, stable smiles. Tooth decay is a leading dental health concern that affects children and adult patients.
Cavities- The Oral-Body Connection
Tooth decay worsens when left untreated triggering a domino effect that can lead to the deterioration of the patient’s oral and systemic health. As bacteria multiply and spread, the structure of the tooth is compromised and may require extraction if not promptly treated.
When left untreated, tooth decay can lead to a whole range of secondary conditions that develop due to the spread of disease-causing bacteria, the gums, teeth, jaw bone, and systemic health of the patients becomes compromised.
Patients with tooth decay have a higher risk of developing:
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
- Gum disease
- Gum recession
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart disease
What Are Cavities?
Dental caries are a result of enamel erosion caused by acid-producing bacteria. Bacteria multiply, feeding off of sugary residue left behind on the teeth. As decay develops, the enamel of the tooth erodes away, and infection can spread to the inner pulp of the tooth. Caught early, tooth decay can be treated using Icon, dental fillings, or an inlay or onlay. More advanced decay may require a root canal or tooth extraction to restore oral health.
Routine dental exams and professional teeth cleanings help keep teeth clean and disease-free. For patients who visit the dentist on a routine basis, Dr. Brenda Paulen can make an early diagnosis of any developing health concerns including tooth decay.
How to Fix Tooth Cavities
Treating Tooth Cavities with Oral Hygiene
Brushing and flossing are your first defense against developing an oral disease such as tooth decay. Patients should begin brushing in infancy when the first tooth emerges above the gum line. Brushing and flossing keep teeth healthy in between professional dental cleanings and help to maintain strong, stable bites.
Dr. Paulen or one of our dental care team can help make personalized recommendations on effective brushing and flossing techniques during your routine dental health exams.
Brushing- All patients of all ages should brush their teeth at least twice a day, for a full two minutes. Brushing after every meal is ideal and may be recommended for patients more prone to tooth decay. Brushing the teeth removes the daily build-up of debris and bacteria helping to keep your teeth clean, preventing the spread of tartar and plaque.
Flossing- It is highly recommended that patients floss every time they brush their teeth. Flossing at least once a day can remove plaque and tartar from between the teeth where a toothbrush is unable to reach and cavities commonly develop. Patients who floss their teeth are less likely to develop tooth decay.
Treating Tooth Cavities with Teeth Cleanings
Routine dental health exams are an essential part of maintaining your healthy and stable smile. Dr. Paulen provides comprehensive and personalized dental checkups and encourages patients to visit our Sandy Springs, GA dentist office at least twice a year.
Biannual dental exams allow for early diagnosis and conservative treatment, helping to prevent the further deterioration of oral health. Professional teeth cleanings thoroughly clean the gums and all surfaces of the teeth.
Our highly trained dental hygienists use a gentle technique to carefully remove plaque and tartar buildup from hard-to-reach areas of the oral cavity. Our professional dental cleanings help keep oral bacteria in check and can prevent the development of tooth decay.
Treating Tooth Cavities with Preventative Treatments
As part of our comprehensive preventative oral health care, Proud Smiles offers a range of treatments to help prevent the development of tooth decay and other related oral health concerns. Children and adult patients who are more prone to tooth decay may consider some of the following preventative measures to help maintain their optimal oral health.
- Fluoride Varnish- Fluoride is one of the easiest ways to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is simply painted onto the surfaces of the teeth and can be done after a regular tooth cleaning in our office.
- Sealants- Sealants are typically used for our younger patients, but can be used for anyone. They’re painted onto the molars of the teeth, as the various crevices and surfaces of those teeth make them more difficult to clean. The sealant is a thin layer of plastic material that provides another barrier against tooth decay.
- Icon- Icon dental technology is a way to take care of very early tooth cavities. No drilling is involved and it’s completed in just one office visit. It both fills the area and helps to reinforce the enamel
- Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste- Certain patients may be more prone to tooth decay than others. In these cases, we may recommend products to take home with you. Dr. Paulen offers a prescription fluoride toothpaste, Clinpro 5000, for patients in need of a higher strength toothpaste.
- Phocal Fluoride Disk: Patented Phocal disks are used to treat cavities that form in between the teeth. They’re inserted and dissolve to form a gel that administers fluoride deep and helps to stimulate the remineralization process of the tooth.
- Fluoride Gel Trays: Certain medications and systemic illnesses can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can make you more likely to suffer from tooth decay. Trays and fluoride gel can be provided so that you can do more frequent fluoride treatments at home.
Tooth Cavity FAQs
Can you stop a cavity once it starts?
When a cavity starts it can be reversed in its earliest stages. Enamel is capable of repairing itself using saliva and fluoride. Cavities can only be reversed in their earliest stages.
How long can you leave a cavity untreated?
Cavities expand, grow, and worsen over time. The longer they are left untreated the worse they get. It is recommended to have cavities filled and treated sooner rather than later because they can reach nerves in as little as 3-6 months.
How many cavities is normal?
The National Institute of Health reports that 92% of adults have had cavities in their lifetime. The average number of cavities per person is between 3 and 4. Do not worry if you have a cavity. It is easily treatable and does not have to affect your daily life.