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About Cavities and Fillings

A cavity can be a pain - literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

A cavity can be a pain – literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

It’s news we never like to hear during a dental visit: “You have a cavity.” But while we always want to do everything we can to prevent cavities, there’s a lot we can do to restore your teeth today if one develops, and that goes well beyond the metal fillings of yesteryear.

What is a Cavity?

The simplest explanation is that a cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth, opening it up to further damage and decay. But to understand cavities, it’s helpful to know how and why they develop.

We talk a lot about brushing and flossing to get rid of bacteria in your mouth, and it’s because that bacteria, when allowed to stay and multiply, can cause significant damage to your teeth and your gums. Bacteria can irritate and inflame gums, potentially leading to periodontal disease, and the acids produced by those bacteria can damage the enamel on your teeth as well, slowly wearing their way to a cavity. Once a cavity develops, it can’t heal on its own, and if it isn’t treated it will continue to worsen. That can lead to nerve damage, and the need for a root canal.

What We Can Do to Repair a Tooth with a Cavity

If West Meade Dental finds a cavity during a checkup, we’ll recommend immediate treatment to halt the damage. Depending on how significant your tooth decay is, that can range from a filling to a porcelain crown.

In most cases, if you’re keeping up with regular dental visits, we’ll be able to catch a cavity before more involved treatment is necessary, and we’ll recommend a filling that repairs the tooth aesthetically and functionally.

At West Meade Dental, we use tooth-colored fillings that restore your bite and protect the tooth’s nerves from further damage, but also look and feel just like the rest of your teeth. It’s a big difference from the highly noticeable gold alloy we were stuck with in decades past.

Preventing Cavities

If you do develop a cavity, West Meade Dental can help — but preventing a cavity in the first place is always our first hope. That’s why we recommend diligent oral care at home and regular visits to our office for cleanings and checkups (the frequency of recommended visits depends on your individual oral health, but in most cases, it’s every six months).

In between cleanings and checkups, you can do a lot to prevent cavities. Eating a balanced diet is important, as is following good oral health practices between meals. Rinsing with water after eating and drinking — particularly if you’ve having acidic or sugary food and drink — is always a good practice. And your daily tooth care routine should include flossing once a day, and brushing twice, using a soft-bristled brush and ADA-approved toothpaste.

To take a step further toward prevention, West Meade Dental can apply a dental sealant to coat your molars, which acts as a long-term barrier to keep bacteria from lodging and multiplying between your teeth and leading to tooth decay.

Do you have any questions about cavities or general oral health? We’re always glad to help our patients. Just give West Meade Dental a call!

Say No to Cavities

Fighting Cavities

Everyone wants a bright healthy smile and to do so you must have a clean teeth routine to prevent future dental problems.  Often times when your teeth are not taken care of properly they begin to collect a sticky substance called plaque and will slowly begin to decay, leading to cavities.  Cavities can be a pain, both figuratively and literally, so if in your dental check up you are alerted you have one, make sure you have it filled immediately.  To make an appointment with the professionals call West Meade Dental today!

How can I prevent cavities?

Taking care of your teeth each day takes more than just brushing. It also means making smart food and drink choices.

Taking care of your teeth each day takes more than just brushing. It also means making smart food and drink choices.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has mentioned many great tips for mouth health.  The first step to preventing cavities is brushing your teeth.  While this may seem obvious, many people are not brushing correctly.  It is at the most importance that you brush twice a day with a paste containing fluoride.  Also, floss everyday to remove food that may be left in between teeth.  You also want to use an antimicrobial mouth rinse that will help in decreasing bacteria in the mouth.  You should also consider your diet when thinking about your teeth.  Consuming a lot of food and drink with ample amounts of sugar will stick on your teeth and cause plaque.  Lastly, chew some sugarless gum throughout the day.  Not only will the increased saliva wash away germs, but also bad breath.

Aside from the basics, there are other things you can do to make sure your smile is protected.  First, visit a dentist regularly.  Most offices and insurance companies will recommend every six months.  There they will do x-rays and check ups to check for anything that may look out of the ordinary.  Also, they will place sealant, a special coating, to all the biting areas and the back of the teeth.  This is especially important to do on children’s teeth when the permanent are growing in.

What happens if I have a cavity?

To fix a cavity, your dentist will first numb the area and remove the part of the tooth that has decayed.  Then the dentist will apply the filling material and clean and polish it.  Today, we have many types of fillings that can even be tooth colored.

Do I Need An Orthodontist?

Identifying When a Dentist or Orthodontist is Needed

When do you need a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental professional? The answer depends on the condition and how long it has been present. In general, adults and children should visit a dentist once every six months for a complete oral examination and teeth cleaning procedure. If a dentist finds issues such as cavities or the beginning stages of gum disease, a follow-up visit may be required. Crooked or crowded teeth are among the issues that may indicate the need to visit an orthodontist. Their specialty is the strategic shifting of teeth.

During a general examination, the dentist inspects the gums, teeth, and tongue and may probe certain areas to test for sensitivity or cavities. Teeth are then scaled to remove plaque and tartar buildup before cleaning each tooth with a special instrument and dental paste. If fluoride treatment is recommended, it is applied to clean teeth and the mouth is rinsed. Periodically, the dentist may take X-rays of the teeth and mouth. Current condition and medical and dental history determine the frequency of X-rays.

Dental Check-up - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Dental Check-up – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

Dental X-rays are used to visualize tooth and oral tissue diseases that an examination cannot identify. Dentists use X-rays to help located and treat dental issues at early stages, potentially saving pain, money, and even lives. For children, these X-rays help identify decay, determine whether the mouth has enough space to accommodate incoming teeth, and assess whether primary tooth loss is occurring fast enough to allow the proper emergence of permanent teeth.

An X-ray can verify wisdom tooth development in older children and whether these teeth will be able to emerge through gums. With adults, X-rays are used to reveal areas of decay that are not visible during an oral exam, particularly decay between teeth. An X-ray can identify changes in the root canal or bone due to infection and point out bone loss due to gum disease. Dentists often use X-rays to assist with preparation of dentures, implants, braces, and other procedures.

Most symptoms or issues that pertain to the teeth, gums, and mouth are not emergencies. However, immediate attention is recommended in certain situations. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, visit a dentist immediately because it may be possible to re-implant the tooth. A dental visit should also be scheduled if a tooth is chipped or broken. Retain the piece that broke off and store it in a cool, moist cloth. Treatment will be based on the extent of the chip or break.

If a tooth is knocked out of its correct position or becomes misaligned, use light pressure to try to push it back into place. Bite down on the tooth to maintain the correct position and see a dentist immediately. Treatment may involve splinting the tooth to help it heal. Trauma to the mouth area may also result in lacerations or cuts on the tongue, cheeks, or gums. Apply direct pressure to control bleeding and seek immediate dental or medical attention.

Non-traumatic tooth issues include tooth pain or a toothache resulting from a dental abscess or cavity in or around a tooth. If the gum around the affected tooth swells significantly, fluid drains from the area, or the pain is severe, have a dentist evaluate the situation. Redness or swelling of gums is not usually an urgent situation but since it may indicate infection or gum disease, schedule a dental appointment as soon as is convenient.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to straighten teeth so they sit well with teeth on the opposite jaw. With a good bite, it becomes easier to speak, bite, and chew. There are several signs that it is time to vista an orthodontist:

 

  • Losing baby teeth earlier or later than is normal
  • Sucking fingers
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Teeth that are blocked-out, crowded, or misplaced
  • Teeth that protrude
  • Teeth that do not meet or that meet abnormally
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Recessed, protruding, or shifting jaw
  • Jaw that makes sounds
  • Inability to close lips comfortably
  • Biting the roof of the mouth or biting the cheek
  • Facial features disproportionate with the remainder of the face
  • Facial imbalance

 

Dental treatment helps patients maintain clean and healthy mouths. Orthodontic care is part of comprehensive dental treatment for some patients. It ensures a healthy bite, which is important at any age. Knowing when it is time to visit a dentist or orthodontist and receiving the proper treatment can help teeth last for a lifetime.

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