‍Do I Need a Filling for a Small Cavity? ‍

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "cavity?" 

Most likely you can already picture yourself on the chair with the dentist drilling your tooth to treat it. 

However, cavities are very complex and don't require the same treatment. In some instances, you may not need a dental filling at all. 

Here's what you need to know. 

How Cavities Form

Cavities are small holes in the tooth's structure caused by the acid that the bacteria in your mouth produce. 

Here's how a cavity develops: 

  • Plaque Formation: Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. The bacteria feed on the food particles in your mouth and release acids. 
  • Demineralization: These acids attack the tooth enamel, causing it to lose minerals. You may notice a white spot on the surface of the tooth, which is usually the first sign a cavity is forming. 
  • Enamel Decay: If the demineralization continues, the enamel becomes weaker and eventually breaks down. Once there is an entry point in the enamel, it becomes easier for the bacteria to reach the inner layers of the tooth. 
  • Dentin Decay: As the bacteria penetrate deeper into the tooth, they will reach the dentin, the soft tissue under the enamel. The dentin is also directly connected to the nerve of the tooth, so you may start to experience some tooth sensitivity. 
  • Pulp Decay: If not treated, the decay can reach the pulp, which can become infected and lead to pain and swelling. This is a dental emergency and often requires a root canal to save the tooth.

Do All Cavities Need Fillings? 

Whether a cavity needs a filling depends on its size and stage. If the cavity is in its incipient stage (demineralization), your dentist will use other methods to treat it. 

  • Fluoride Treatment: Fluoride will provide the tooth with the minerals it lost due to decay and strengthen the enamel. 
  • Dental Sealants: These are a thin coat applied on the tooth to seal it and protect it against the cavity. Sealants will stop the cavity from progressing and might even help reverse the process. 
  • Thorough Oral Hygiene: For these methods to work, they need to be combined with a rigorous at-home oral hygiene routine. You need to brush and floss every day without fail and see your dentist every six months so they can check on the cavity's progress. 

Not only that sometimes small cavities don't need a filling, but with the right treatment they can also be reversed. 

If you notice a white or chalky spot on one of your teeth or if you simply want an oral health check, get in touch with Foothill Modern Dental. Dr. Sarno will examine your teeth and create a personalized care plan so you can enjoy lasting oral health. 

Contact us online to book your appointment. 

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