Understanding Cavities and Fillings

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Understanding cavities starts with a basic knowledge of tooth anatomy. Teeth consist of several layers. The outer covering of the tooth is made up of material called enamel, and it’s the hardest substance in the human body. Under the gum line, cementum covers each tooth’s root. Beneath this lies dentin, which contains nerve endings. The deepest layer is called the pulp, and it contains the tooth’s vascular structure and nerve center. After teeth are fully developed, the pulp’s only purpose it to alert us when it is damaged. It does this through transmitting pain.

What Causes Tooth Decay?
Food can easily become trapped in the pits and grooves of a tooth’s biting surfaces, and plaque left behind can start to cause tooth decay. The damage soon spreads from their thin surface to the tooth’s underlying dentin. The second way a cavity attacks is from a smoother surface between teeth or on the front and back. The affected area is usually wide and comes to a point at the entrance to deeper layers of the tooth.

Finding and Treating Cavities
Hands-on visual exams and use of an explorer probe can help your dentist locate areas of decay. X-ray examinations, especially bitewing x-rays, reveal tooth decay wedged between teeth and under the gum line. When these methods don’t reveal enough information, your dentist may use a disclosing solution to test suspicious areas. If a cavity extends into the dentin, treatment is necessary. The two-part goal of cavity treatment includes removing decay and replacing it with a filling material. After injecting a local anesthetic, the dentist uses a high-speed dental drill to remove all decayed portions of the tooth and prepare it for a filling. A liner is often inserted into the tooth to reduce sensitivity. Base cements may be added to deeper fillings for temperature insulation. The filling is usually made from amalgam, resin, porcelain, or gold. Fillings are layered on top of the liner to rebuild its structure.

Cavity Prevention
Affordable dentists can repair most decayed teeth, but cavity prevention is always preferable. The easiest way to avoid the dental drill is to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brush at least twice every day, and floss once daily. Avoid or limit sugary snacks and drinks, and visit your dentist regularly.

To learn about our family dentistry practice in Philadelphia, call Gentle Dental of Pennsylvania today at (215) 789-9675 or make an appointment.

Gentle Dental offers affordable family dentistry and gentle, compassionate dental care in Philadelphia. With 14 affiliated practices in the Greater Philadelphia area, our offices are conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Gentle Dental of Pennsylvania, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover an affordable dentist who truly cares at Gentle Dental of Pennsylvania.

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