Oral cavities are the destruction of your tooth enamel (the hard, outer surface of the tooth). Roughly 60% of all school children and nearly 80% of adults have dental cavities in South Africa, making cavity treatment one of the most common procedures done by dentists on a day-to-day basis. Here, Dr Serfontein answers the frequently asked questions patients have with regards to cavities and how they are treated.
If my teeth are not aching, does it mean that I am cavity-free?
The relationship between cavity and pain is unclear because there can be cavities without any symptoms. While minor damage to the teeth may cause sensitivity and discomfort, cavities are not the only issue that we have to worry about. Extensive tooth brushing, grinding of teeth or abrasive food can damage the teeth with or without any symptoms.
If you are experiencing minor sensitivity, but neglect to contact your dentist to have it treated, it could worsen and cause intensive pain, tenderness and swelling. To avoid damage to the tooth and pulp, it is recommended that you contact your dentist if you suspect something might be wrong. It’s better to treat something at an early stage before it gives you more problems.
Can a decayed tooth heal itself?
A cavity is an infection that will never heal itself. The only way to treat a cavity is by getting your dentist to clean out the bacteria as soon as possible and protect the tooth before the condition worsens.
Do cavity treatments hurt?
Your dentist can administer a topical numbing gel or an anaesthetic injection to relieve any pain that you may be feeling. However, it is always important to inform the clinician if you feel any discomfort. If you are nervous about being in the dental seat, your dentist will take a gentle approach to treating your cavity, to ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure.
Will I need a filling?
Smaller fractures of a tooth don’t always need a filling. Polishing and minor reshaping of the tooth might be enough. However, for bigger fractures or cavities, fillings or dental crowns are needed.
For more answers to your frequently asked questions about dental cavities, contact a dentist in Cape Town today.