Cavities, or dental caries, are one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92 percent of American adults between the ages of twenty and sixty-four have had dental caries. According to the CDC, almost 20 percent of kids between the ages of two and nineteen have untreated dental cavities. Cavities are a chronic disease – the most prevalent chronic disease in the U.S.
Cavities are also preventable. Thanks to changes in the ways that we care for teeth and preventive measures like fluoridated drinking water, we’ve significantly reduced the number of cavities that people are likely to experience in their lives. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to prevent every cavity, and the odds are pretty good that at some point in your life, you’ll hear your dentist tell you that you need a filling.
What Causes Cavities?
You’ve probably been told your entire life that sugar causes cavities. The truth is that this is only part of the story. Cavities are actually caused by bacteria – more specifically, the acid that bacteria excrete when they metabolize sugar, which is their favorite food.
Brushing is a good way to keep the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum. Plus, brushing and flossing helps to eliminate the plaque that can coat the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque is made up of tiny particles of food, saliva, and living and dead bacteria. Yuck, right? You probably want to go brush your teeth right now! (Go ahead – we’ll be here when you get back.)
The acid from these bacteria eats away at your tooth’s structure. Eventually, a hole will be created. This hole is what we refer to as a cavity.
When you develop a cavity, it’s important to catch it early and treat it promptly. This prevents further damage to your tooth, which might require more extensive treatment.
To treat your cavity, Dr. Aldrich will remove the damaged part of your tooth, sterilize the area to get rid of any remaining bacteria, and then fill the hole that’s left to stabilize the tooth and prevent further damage.
We’ll determine the most appropriate type of dental filling based on the location of the cavity and its size:
Tooth-colored composite fillings – Nobody wants a dark filling marring their smile. We can use tooth-colored composite fillings to fill cavities in the teeth that show when you smile. These modern fillings can be blended to perfectly match the natural color of your teeth, and once they are placed, even you won’t be able to tell!
Amalgam fillings – These fillings are made of a mixture of different materials, and they’ve been in use for decades. Amalgam fillings are a good choice when strength matters, such as when the cavity is large or it’s in the teeth that you use for chewing.
We’ll discuss your options and provide a professional recommendation so you know what to expect.
Schedule a Cleaning and Exam
Cavities are typically painless when they are small. In most cases, people don’t realize that they have a cavity. It’s important to catch cavities when they are small so that they don’t get bigger and cause pain.
If you are due for an examination or if you are experiencing pain, please give us a call to schedule your appointment with Waterloo dentist Dr. Christopher Aldrich.