Teeth have multiple components to them. There is an outer enamel layer, an inner dentin layer and a nerve that runs through the very center of the tooth.
How Are Cavities Formed
A cavity forms when acid from the bacteria in your mouth eat away at the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. The acid makes a hole in the tooth by eating away tooth structure (enamel and dentin), which allows bacteria to get inside. If a cavity gets too big, it can travel beyond the enamel and dentin layers and start eating away at the nerve of the tooth. Cavities that have reached the nerve of the tooth can be responsible for shooting, throbbing dental pain that keeps you up at night.
How to Treat Cavities
The treatment for a simple cavity is to remove the cavity and damaged tooth structure and replace it with a filling. During a filling, we remove all of the damaged, infected enamel and dentin and replace the missing tooth structure with a biocompatible tooth colored filling.
If a cavity is left unchecked and gets so big that it gets into the nerve, that can cause swelling and severe dental pain. When cavities have reached the nerve of a tooth, the treatment is a root canal. During the root canal, the damaged nerve inside of the tooth is removed and it is replaced with a filling material called Gutta Percha. The tooth stays in your mouth the entire time, only the nerve is removed.
Our goal is always to prevent cavities. We accomplish this by providing cleanings and fluoride treatments. During dental exams, if we spot cavities, we always plan fillings for them as soon as possible so they don’t get any bigger. Unfortunately cavities can occur even with the best preventative dentistry. When they happen, we will be here to help!