We’ve all been there, that dreaded moment when your dentist discovers a cavity during your routine check-up. It’s not the best news to receive, but it’s important to understand what happens next and how to take care of your teeth. What happens next after you get a cavity? Let’s talk about it!
What causes cavities?
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are caused by a combination of factors. The main culprits are bacteria in the mouth, especially a type called Streptococcus mutans, which produce acids that erode tooth enamel. Poor oral hygiene, excessive consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks, infrequent dental visits, and dry mouth can all contribute to the development of cavities.
Once your dentist identifies a cavity, they will explain the severity and location of the decay. This information plays a crucial role in determining the necessary steps for treatment. But don’t worry, cavities are common and can be effectively addressed with proper care.
Discussing Treatment Options
After the diagnosis, your dentist will discuss the treatment options available based on the severity of the cavity. For minor cavities, they may recommend a simple filling. This involves removing the decayed portion and filling the space with a tooth-colored material, ensuring your tooth regains its strength and functionality.
In some cases, if the cavity has progressed significantly or is located in a difficult-to-reach area, your dentist might suggest a crown. A crown is a cap placed over the entire tooth to protect and strengthen it. This procedure may require multiple visits, as the crown needs to be custom-made to perfectly fit your tooth.
Preparing for the Procedure
Once you and your dentist decide on the treatment plan, preparations for the procedure will begin. This may involve scheduling a separate appointment or discussing the timeline for the crown placement. Your dentist will also provide instructions on any pre-procedure preparations, such as fasting or medication adjustments.
On the day of the procedure, your dentist will make sure you’re comfortable and administer local anesthesia to numb the area being treated. For fillings, the decayed portion is first removed using a dental drill or laser. The cavity is then cleaned and disinfected before the filling material is applied. Your dentist will shape and polish the filling to ensure it blends seamlessly with your natural tooth.
For crown placements, your dentist will first prepare your tooth by removing any decay or previous restorations. They will then take impressions of your tooth to create a custom-made crown. While waiting for the permanent crown to be created, you will be provided with a temporary crown to protect your tooth.
Aftercare and Recovery
After the procedure, your dentist will provide detailed aftercare instructions to ensure a smooth recovery. These may include:
- Pain Management – Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate any discomfort after the procedure. Your dentist may also prescribe medication if needed.
- Oral Hygiene – It’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent further decay. Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and using mouthwash as recommended by your dentist will help keep your teeth healthy.
- Dietary Considerations – Avoiding hard, sticky, or overly hot/cold foods can help protect your newly restored tooth. Your dentist may recommend avoiding certain foods or beverages for a few days after the procedure.
- Follow-up Appointments – Regular check-ups are essential to monitor the healing process and ensure the restoration is functioning correctly. Your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments accordingly.
Can cavities be prevented in children?
Yes, cavities can be prevented in children by establishing good oral hygiene habits from an early age. Parents should start cleaning their baby’s gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush even before the first tooth erupts. Once teeth appear, brushing should be done twice daily using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
How can I prevent cavities?
To prevent cavities, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. Reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks can help prevent cavities.
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While discovering a cavity may not be the news we want to hear, it’s important to address it promptly to prevent further damage. From diagnosis to treatment options and post-procedure care, your dentist will guide you through the process. Remember to maintain good oral hygiene and attend regular dental check-ups to keep your smile healthy and cavity-free.
If you’re ready to get those cavities taken care of, then give Dr. Topping and his team a call today!