Let’s say you go to the dentist for a checkup and some x-rays. You think you’re fine, or maybe you’ve been experiencing some symptoms like sensitivity or toothache, but you aren’t sure what’s going on. Then your dentist tells you that, unfortunately, you have one or more cavities that need to be fixed before they worsen.
It can be a huge bummer to find out that you have cavities, but the good news is that there are treatments to resolve cavities so you don’t have to worry about losing your teeth!
What are your options? We cover some of the main ones below, but keep in mind that your dentist will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on factors like the severity of your cavities.
Good Ol’ Fillings
You’ve heard of fillings for cavities, right? Of course, you have! Basically, when your cavities aren’t too extensive, and they haven’t reached the pulp or the nerve of the tooth yet, this is likely what your dentist will recommend.
Also referred to as restorations, fillings can be made of various materials. You can choose from amalgam (a.k.a. mercury fillings), composite resin (a.k.a. tooth colored fillings), or even porcelain or gold fillings. And you can discuss the pros and cons of each of these filling materials with your dentist, who will guide you towards the one that would be best for your unique situation.
What can you expect? Well, for a filling, your dentist will use special tools, like a dental drill, to remove all the decayed areas of the tooth. Once all the decayed stuff has been cleaned out, your dentist will place the filling, which will harden into place and make your tooth good as new.
Root Canals: When a Filling Won’t Be Enough
What happens when the decay has reached deeper into the tooth, past the dentin and all the way to the pulp or nerve? In that case, it’s likely that a filling wouldn’t suffice. And that’s when your dentist might tell you that a root canal is necessary. If you can, remain calm! Root canals are more common than you might think.
During this procedure, your dentist will remove the diseased pulp and nerve, and he or she might even use a medicine to remove any infection, if needed. Once the pulp and nerve are cleared out, a sealant is used to fill in the space inside the tooth. So, like a cavity, this helps you keep your tooth rather than having to extract it.
Crowns Can Be Used to Restore the Look of a Tooth
After a root canal, you might need to go back to your dentist to have a crown placed on the tooth that was worked on so it can be nice and strong, and so that it will look like a natural tooth.
Crowns might also be necessary after a filling if the dentist had to remove a lot of tooth in order to clean out the large amount of decay that developed.
Why get a crown? By replacing the tooth’s natural crown, the integrity of it is restored. Plus, you can preserve the tooth, and you can reduce the risk of it being so weak that it would be prone to breaking.
When No Other Options Will Work, Extraction Might Be Necessary
In the case of a severely damaged tooth that has way too much decay, and when the risk of infection spreading to the jaw is high, your dentist might not be able to restore it with a filling or root canal and crown. At that point, your only option might be to have the tooth extracted.
Don’t worry, as there are options to replace the missing tooth after it has been removed. For example, your dentist might recommend a bridge, or you might even be a good candidate for a dental implant that will look and function just like a real tooth.
Get Checked Regularly – You Won’t Regret It!
As you can see, there are a few treatment options when you’re diagnosed with a cavity, but the less intense treatments are only possible when the decay isn’t extensive. That’s why seeing your dentist for checkups is highly recommended.
By having your mouth examined on a regular basis, your dentist will be able to spot trouble in its earliest stages, when decay will be easiest to treat with the smallest fillings possible. And, remember, even if you aren’t feeling pain, there might be a small cavity that still needs to be treated before it progresses and starts causing pain, so keep those appointments anyway.
How can you be sure you can afford to see your dentist regularly to reap all of these benefits? The simple solution is to sign up for an affordable dental insurance plan! You can quickly find the policy that’s right for you by browsing the options on the Direct Benefits Marketplace.