Cavities – Tooth Decay, Causes, Prevention & Treatment
New Image Dental
1608 Centinela Ave, Ste 7, Inglewood, CA 90302
We Cater to Cowards!
Book Appointment Online
What is a tooth cavity?
A tooth cavity, also known as a dental cavity, is a hole in a tooth caused by the destruction of the tooth’s structure by acid-producing bacteria. These bacteria thrive in the presence of sugars and produce acid that erodes tooth enamel, the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth.
If left untreated, a tooth cavity can progress and lead to tooth decay, pain, infection, and even tooth loss. Regular oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups and cleanings, can help prevent tooth cavities.
What are tooth cavity symptoms?
The symptoms of a cavity can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the stage of the decay. Some common symptoms of a cavity include:
- Tooth sensitivity: A feeling of pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods or beverages.
- Toothache: A persistent or intermittent pain in the affected tooth.
- Visible holes or pits in the tooth: As the decay progresses, it can create small holes or pits in the enamel.
- Discoloration of the tooth: As the decay goes deeper, the tooth may appear dark or brown.
- Pain when biting or chewing: As the decay reaches the deeper layers of the tooth, it may become painful to bite or chew.
It’s important to note that in the early stages of decay, there may not be any visible symptoms and the only way to know for sure if you have a cavity is to visit a dentist. In our Inglewood dental practice, we use a laser-based diagnostic tool called DIAGNOdent. More information on DIAGNOdent can be found by clicking here.
It’s worth mentioning that cavities can occur in other parts of the mouth such as between the teeth or on the root surfaces if the gums recede. These areas can be harder to detect and may not cause pain until they are quite advanced, so regular dental check-ups are important to catch them early. We highly recommend scheduling an appointment with New Image Dental an affordable dentist if you suspect a tooth cavity.
What if a tooth cavity is not treated?
If cavities are not treated, they can continue to progress and cause more significant damage to the tooth. The acid produced by the bacteria can continue to erode the enamel and dentin, the softer layer underneath the enamel, eventually reaching the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
Once the pulp is infected, it can lead to inflammation, pain, and the development of an abscess, which is a pocket of pus that can cause severe pain, swelling, and fever. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body and potentially cause serious health problems.
In advanced stages, a tooth can become so damaged that it needs to be extracted. Therefore, it is important to treat cavities as soon as they are diagnosed to prevent further damage and potential complications.
What causes a tooth cavity?
A tooth cavity, also known as tooth decay or dental caries, is caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums and contains acid-producing bacteria that can erode tooth enamel.
When plaque is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Sugars and starches in the foods we eat, particularly those that are sticky or high in carbohydrates, can provide fuel for the bacteria in plaque to produce acid. This acid attacks the tooth enamel, breaking down the minerals and causing small holes or cavities to form.
The severity and rate of tooth decay can also depend on other factors such as:
- Dry Mouth (xerostomia) : Saliva helps to neutralize acid and wash away food particles, so a lack of saliva can increase the risk of cavities.
- Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing and flossing regularly can allow plaque to build up on the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities.
- Weak enamel: Some people have weaker enamel than others, making their teeth more susceptible to cavities.
- Certain medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can make it harder for the body to fight off infection, including tooth decay.
- Lack of fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. A lack of fluoride in the diet or in the water supply can increase the risk of cavities.
- Poor nutrition: A diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals can lead to poor oral health and an increased risk of cavities.
- Age: Children and older adults are at a higher risk of cavities.
It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene, have a balanced diet, and visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and professional cleanings to help prevent tooth cavities.
What are the treatments for cavities?
The treatment for a cavity depends on the severity of the decay and the stage of the infection. Some common treatments for cavities include:
- Dental filling: This is the most common treatment for a cavity. A dental filling is used to fill the hole created by the decay, and it can be made from materials such as composite resin, amalgam, or gold. The dentist will remove the decayed tooth structure and will fill the hole with the chosen material to restore the tooth to its normal shape and function.
- Dental crown: If a cavity is large and has caused significant damage to the tooth, a dental crown may be necessary to cover the entire tooth and protect it from further decay. A dental crown is a custom-made cap that fits over the remaining tooth structure and is typically made of porcelain, gold, or a combination of both.
- Root canal treatment: If the cavity has progressed to the point where it has reached the pulp of the tooth and infected it, a root canal treatment may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the canals inside the tooth, and then filling them with a sealer. The tooth is then usually restored with a crown.
- Extractions: In some cases, the tooth may be so severely damaged that it cannot be saved and must be extracted. Your dentist may recommend extraction as a treatment option.
It’s important to note that these treatments are not interchangeable and the best option for you will depend on the specific case and the stage of decay. Your dentist will evaluate your oral health and will recommend the best treatment plan for you.
When to see a dentist?
It’s recommended to see a dentist at least twice a year for regular check-ups and cleanings, even if you don’t have any symptoms of a cavity. This will allow your dentist to detect and treat any issues in the early stages before they become more serious.
If you do have symptoms of a cavity, such as a tooth sensitivity, toothache, or visible holes or discoloration in a tooth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. The sooner a cavity is detected and treated, the less damage it will cause and the easier it will be to repair.
At New Image Dental, we specialize in treating patients with dental anxiety. Our sedation dentistry and oral sedatives have a proven safety record and have helped many of our patients overcome their fear of dental procedures. Our Los Angeles office has had great success in helping patients with dental anxiety. Do you fear the dentist? We Cater to Cowards!! Our team of female dentists offers affordable dental care services.
If you have a severe toothache, swelling, or fever, it’s important to seek emergency dental care as these symptoms can indicate a more serious infection or abscess which need prompt treatment to prevent further damage or complications.
Overall, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene practices and to see a dentist regularly to prevent and detect cavities in a timely manner.
What to expect from your dentist?
During a regular check-up, your dentist from New Image Dental will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for any signs of cavities, gum disease, or other oral health issues. They will also check for any signs of oral cancer.
If cavities are found, your dentist will recommend a treatment plan. Depending on the stage of decay, the treatment may involve a simple filling or a more complex procedure such as a root canal or a crown.
If you need a filling, your dentist will numb the area around the affected tooth, remove the decayed tooth structure, and then fill the hole with the chosen material. The filling will be shaped and polished to match the surrounding tooth structure.
If you need a crown, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the remaining tooth structure. An impression of the prepared tooth will be taken and sent to a dental laboratory where the crown will be made. A temporary crown will be placed while the permanent crown is being made. At the next visit, the permanent crown will be checked for fit, color and bite, and then it will be cemented in place.
For a root canal treatment, the dentist will numb the area around the affected tooth, and make an opening through the top of the tooth. The infected pulp will be removed, the canals will be cleaned and disinfected, and then filled with a sealer. The tooth will then be restored with a filling or a crown.
It’s important to communicate any concerns or questions you may have with your dentist before, during, and after the procedure, to ensure the best experience possible.
Also, it’s important to follow the post-treatment instructions provided by your dentist to ensure proper healing and prevent any complications.
What you can do to prevent tooth cavities
There are several things you can do to help prevent cavities and maintain good oral health:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
- Limit your intake of sugary and starchy foods, as these can contribute to tooth decay.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Chew sugar-free gum after meals, as this can help increase saliva flow and neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Avoid smoking and limit your alcohol consumption as these can increase your risk of developing cavities and other oral health problems.
- If you have tooth sensitivity or pain, avoid hot and cold foods, and use a desensitizing toothpaste.
- If you have a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm water and gently floss to remove any food particles that may be stuck between your teeth.
- If you have swelling, fever or severe pain, seek emergency dental care as these symptoms can indicate a more serious infection or abscess which need prompt treatment to prevent further damage or complications.
Remember that good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are the best ways to prevent cavities and maintain good oral health.
New Image Dental provides personalized dental care in Inglewood. New Image Dental and staff practice a full scope of general and cosmetic dentistry with expertise ranging from dental implants to porcelain veneers, dentures, crowns and bridges.
We understand how intimidating it can be to visit the dentist, thus we strive to make you feel as comfortable as possible during any exam or procedure. Book your next appointment with an affordable dentist in Inglewood here.
What Your Neighbors are Saying
Dental office in Inglewood, CA. Our goal is to make nervous patients comfortable while taking great pride in creating beautiful new smiles every day as the top dentists in Los Angeles since 2001.
New Image Dental is located at 1608 Centinela Ave near La Cienega. Our dental office is close to LAX and is just nimunes from the 405 freeway. For detailed driving directions see here on Google maps.
The Dentist office has tools from the future and this extraction was painless
Dante P., Compton, CA
The level of personal attention Joann gives me by my greeting me by last name as I enter is so calming. The dentist is usually a place you regret coming but Dr Layson and Dr Adams has changed my perception of the dentist forever...
Review on Yelp
I highly recommend New Image Dental
Kerry H, Inglewood, CA
Very friendly and courteous staff. Dentist near me Dr. Adams was awesome. She was informative , and really erased my concerns and reservations, She assured me I wouldn't "feel any pain" during my procedure and she delivered as promised.
Review on Yelp
Went here for an emergency tooth issue
Claudia G, Inglewood, CA
The best office I have been to by far they are absolutely pain free i came in for extraction of wisdom teeth I didn't even feel a thing including the numbing that would be the first time in my entire life that I have been to a dentist that was pain free !!
Review on Yelp