As a kid, you may remember that proud moment at the dentist’s office when you could announce to your mom or dad that you didn’t have any cavities. Maybe your dentist let you pick out a prize for your efforts.
As an adult, the stakes are a little higher as you now understand that little dental problems can turn into big ones if you don’t take care of them right away. A quick flashback to your first toothache can get you back on track to taking better care of your teeth.
For most people, their first dental procedure was probably a filling. An estimated 92% of all American adults aged 20 to 64 have experienced cavities, also known as dental caries. The process of getting a cavity filled is certainly a familiar one, but have you ever wondered why it’s so important?
Brian LaBombard, DMD, and the highly experienced dental staff at Airport Dental Care provide the scoop on fillings and how they’re your first line of defense against tooth decay.
Stop tooth decay in its tracks
A cavity is a hole that develops in your tooth as a result of a series of compounded actions. It’s simple enough to think about dental fillings as just a way to fill that hole. However, only by examining how it got there in the first place can you truly understand the crucial role fillings play in your oral and overall health.
First comes plaque. Plaque is a sticky film composed of bacteria and acid that comes from starches and sugary foods and drinks. If you don’t brush well enough, plaque coats your teeth and turns into a hard substance called tartar that locks the bacteria in.
Acid in the plaque then erodes the hard surface of your teeth, known as enamel. This erosion ultimately causes the hole or cavity.
When we perform a simple general dentistry procedure that fills the hole with a dental filling, we first clean out the tooth, removing tooth decay and stopping it in its tracks.
Prevent infections and tooth loss
A dental filling actually prevents further infection. The goal for most dental treatments is to save your tooth. The same is true for dental fillings, but it’s so much more.
If left untreated, bacteria and acid continue to eat through the tooth to the dentin — the layer under the enamel — and to the dental pulp. Not only is this process painful, it’s also dangerous as infections caused by the bacteria can spread from your mouth to other parts of your body.
Stave off a root canal
The dental pulp contains nerves and blood vessels, which ultimately die when pus forms from the spreading bacteria. In this case, the only way to save your tooth is with a root canal.
A root canal is basically a cleanup and restore process that you could have avoided by simply filling the cavity instead of letting it become infected. In this case, less is not only more, but also much better when it comes to both your oral health and your overall health.
If you’re experiencing dental pain or think you may have a cavity, call our office in Austin, Texas, or schedule an appointment online. We’ll help you get and maintain that healthy smile you’ve always wanted.