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The Importance of Detecting and Correcting Cavities

No one wants to hear he or she has a cavity during a routine visit to the dentist. However, detecting and correcting cavities early on can save your teeth from pain, infection, and more decay. This is why regular dental visits are so important. Of course, you can look for signs and symptoms of tooth decay and cavities at home, but you do need to turn to a professional dentist to correctly diagnose and fill the cavity to prevent further tooth deterioration. We at West Meade Dental would like to tell you more about cavities so you can understand the importance of finding and treating cavities.



Cavities begin their lives as tooth decay. According to WebMD, tooth decay is caused by sugary and starchy food residue remaining on the teeth after you eat. Common food culprits include: soda, fruits, cake, candy, cereals, and even breads and milk. If you don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating these kinds of carbohydrates, your likelihood of developing tooth decay goes up greatly, which leads to plaque. Plaque causes the holes in your teeth, otherwise known as cavities.


Of course not! Anyone who eats sugary and starchy foods on a regular basis is at risk for developing a cavity, no matter his or her age. Older adults can even develop cavities around old fillings, due to the lack of technology present when they received their fillings.


If you experience soreness in a tooth, especially after eating or drinking something sweet, hot, or cold, or if you notice a hole or discoloration on a tooth, you may have a cavity. However, in the early stages of a cavity, there usually are not any signs or symptoms at all. A reason why you should never miss a regular dental exam, only your dentist can conclusively diagnose a cavity. Your dentist will check each tooth by probing for soft tissue, a sure sign of a cavity. X-rays give the best diagnosis of a cavity as they show cavities not visible to the eye, which means they have been found in the early stages.


If left untreated, a cavity will go on to cause pain and further damage to the tooth. You may even have to undergo a root canal to treat a painful, untreated cavity. Early detection of cavities helps to better preserve your teeth.


The cavity treatment depends on the extent of the damage to your tooth, which is another reason early cavity detection is essential for good oral health. If caught early enough so there is not extensive damage to the tooth, the dentist removes the decayed part of the tooth by drilling it away and then replaces the area with a filling. Fillings today are made with safe materials such as gold, porcelain, silver alloy, and composite resin. If your tooth has suffered more damage, you may need a crown, along with a root canal if the decay has caused the pulp or nerve of the tooth to die. New developments are occurring in cavity treatment everyday. Further stressing the importance of detecting cavities early, tooth decay can even now be stopped or reversed if the cavity is found soon enough.

Do you have any questions about the early detection and correction of cavities? Contact West Meade Dental to get those questions answered as well as to schedule your next dental visit.

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Why Does My Tooth Hurt?

Cavities are not the only cause of a toothache. Schedule an appointment with us to know what's causing the pain.

Cavities are not the only cause of a toothache. Schedule an appointment with us to know what’s causing the pain.

Most of us have experienced some type of toothache at some point in our lifetime, and the possible causes for the discomfort are numerous. At the first sign of tooth pain, many people immediately begin to fear that they have developed a cavity. It’s an understandable first impression, however, it’s also not uncommon for these same people to learn that their pain wasn’t coming from a cavity at all. A trip to the dentist is often the only way to get to the bottom of the problem.

Basic Dental Anatomy

A basic understanding of your oral anatomy will help you to better understand the source(s) of a toothache. Your teeth are alive! They have nerves and a blood supply to keep them healthy. The outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, helps to protect everything on the inside of your tooth.

Directly underneath the enamel is the dentin, another hard layer that’s composed of microscopic tubes that communicate with the nerves inside your teeth. If these tubes become exposed, it can result in an increased sensitivity to heat, cold, sweets, and/or other stimuli. The pulp houses the tooth’s nerve and blood supply. If the nerve becomes inflamed, it can become extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

Why do I have a Toothache?

As mentioned previously, toothaches result from a number of different causes:

  • A cavity is the result of bacteria eroding holes through the enamel of a tooth, thereby exposing the dentin and/or pulp.
  • Losing an old filling also exposes your tooth’s sensitive interior, which can cause discomfort as well.
  • A dental abscess (infection) results in a build up of pressure around the root of your tooth, which can cause varying degrees of discomfort.
  • Grinding your teeth can also cause toothaches by wearing away the enamel on your teeth and/or causing gum recession that can lead to irritation of the tissues around the teeth.
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease (gum disease) begins with bacterial growth in your mouth that can lead to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth if not properly treated.
  • Believe it or not, pain in your upper teeth can even be the direct result of a sinus infection.

We hope that this information serves as a jumping-off point for you if you’re experiencing any sort of oral discomfort. It’s extremely important for everyone to note, however, that it is impossible to know the absolute cause of a toothache without paying a visit to a qualified dental professional. West Meade Dental will provide you with the comprehensive dental care necessary to keep you smiling confidently for years to come. Schedule an appointment to come and see us today!

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!

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