Dr. Keith Boenning and Dr. Nate Dancykier are dentists in Towson, MD, that prevent and treat many dental concerns. During each routine dental checkup, they will look for signs of decay on your teeth. Tooth decay, or dental cavities, is a common problem they see daily. It is very prevalent among children. However, adults still suffer from dental cavities as well. Because it is so common, routinely checking for tooth decay should be a part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Twice a year visits to the dentist will ensure your teeth are free of decay, or it is caught early and treated appropriately. Dental cavities can lead to serious tooth damage if it is not treated right away.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay occurs when the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth, begins to break down. This damage to the tooth’s surface will not stop progressing without treatment. It is caused by plaque that accumulates on the teeth. When plaque sits on the teeth, it will eat away at your enamel, creating tiny openings or holes, known as cavities.
What is Plaque?
When we eat sugar and carbohydrates, it produces an acid when mixed with the bacteria that is present in our mouth. These acids, along with bacteria, food particles, and saliva, form a substance called plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that will coat your teeth. If left for too long, it will harden into a substance known as tartar. Brushing your teeth multiple times daily will remove the plaque from your teeth and prevent decay.
What Contributes to Tooth Decay?
Several things contribute to tooth decay but poor oral hygiene habits are the number one cause of it. Also consuming an excess amount of sugar, carbohydrates, and acidic foods and beverages can contribute to decay. The easiest way to prevent tooth decay is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, limit sugar and starches, and get fluoride treatments to protect your teeth against tooth cavities.
Treatment for Tooth Decay in Towson, MD
Dr. Keith Boenning and Dr. Nate Dancykier offer several treatments to help patients tackle tooth decay. The treatment they will choose for you will depend on the extend of the damage to your tooth. They will conduct an examination and then decide which treatment is best for you.
A dental filling is the most commonly used general dentistry treatment for tooth decay. It has been used for many years in the dental field. This conservative treatment will stop the decay from progressing and also fix the damage it caused.
Your dentist will first remove the decayed portion of the tooth, and then remove all bacteria and debris. This will clean the tooth thoroughly, preparing it for treatment. Then your dentist will place a filling material, typically a tooth-colored composite resin, inside of the cavity.
Once the filling material is in place, your dentist will shape it by hand so that it fits the natural shape of the tooth and your bite. The last step is to polish the tooth to help it resemble a natural tooth.
A dental filling will repair the damage and help prevent further damage by sealing off the vulnerable area. It will prevent cracks, breaks, and chips. They are meant to help preserve the natural tooth for as long as possible.
Restorative Dental Care
If a tooth cavity is left untreated, it will continue to progress and grow larger. The longer you wait to have it treated, the more damage your tooth will suffer. In this case, your dentist may need to use various restorative dentistry treatments to fix your teeth.
A dental crown can fix a dental cavity by providing a protective cover for a severely decayed or weakened tooth. When tooth decay is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, the damage it will create may be too large for a standard dental filling.
Your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth, and then reduce the size of the tooth to accommodate the crown. We will take dental impressions of the prepared tooth to create the custom dental crown. It will encase the entire tooth and be shaped to resemble a natural tooth. A tooth crown will restore the tooth appearance, shape, and function. It will also protect the not weakened tooth from further decay and damage. To learn more about the dental crown process, see Dental Crown.
Root Canal Therapy
When tooth decay is left untreated, the decay can reach the innermost part of the tooth. Here, it can cause the pulp to become inflamed and infected. This causes severe pain and damage to the tooth. Your dentist will perform root canal therapy to remove the infected from inside the tooth, and then clean the interior of the tooth. This will address the decay and infection. In most cases, your dentist will also place a dental crown to restore the weakened tooth.
A tooth extraction may be necessary if you have severe tooth decay that cannot be treated with a dental filling, dental crown, or root canal. Here, the tooth damage to the tooth is beyond repair. When tooth decay advances to an extent where it has extensively damaged the tooth structure, compromising its integrity, extraction becomes the only option. To learn more about the dental extraction process, see Tooth Extraction.
How to Avoid Tooth Decay
You can easily avoid tooth decay by committing to a good oral care routine. This is something everyone needs to do for their entire life. A good oral hygiene routine includes daily brushing and flossing. You also need to visit the dentist twice a year for teeth cleanings. In addition to cleaning, we also offer sealants to help avoid cavities.
Our dental hygienists perform teeth cleanings at every dentist appointment. We recommend that you visit us every six months for these cleanings. They help remove built-up plaque and tartar on your teeth in hard-to-reach places. If you skip these necessary appointments, plaque and tartar will eat away at your enamel and cause decay.
We also offer dental sealants, which are thin coatings of plastic that we paint onto the back molars. They will stick to the surface of the teeth where tooth decay is prevalent. We typically apply these to children’s molars when they erupt. Children are more prone to tooth decay due to a lack of proper oral hygiene and too much sugar consumption. Dental Sealants are an extra layer of protection to help children avoid cavities.
If you need to book your routine dental exam or suspect you have a cavity, contact our local Towson, MD, dentist office at 410.324.2294 or request your appointment online.