Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health problems. Cavities form when acids feed on plaque and tartar deposits that have accumulated on the teeth. Fortunately, decay can be addressed with restorative dentistry treatments.
At Castle Hills Family Dental in Castle Hills, TX, dentist Rafael Mercado offers a range of treatments for cavities, including fillings, inlays, crowns, and more. Here, we explore some of the most common procedures in more detail.
Mild decay is typically treated with dental fillings. In the past, fillings were made with an amalgam material, consisting of tin, copper, mercury, silver, and zinc. Today, fillings are made with biocompatible tooth-colored resin. These restorations are safer and more aesthetically pleasing compared to their conventional alternatives.
Inlays and Onlays
In some cases, a cavity may be too large for a simple filling but too small for a dental crown. This may warrant an inlay or onlay. These are custom restorations that fit into the tooth structure like puzzle pieces. Inlays fit between the cusps of a tooth. Onlays are designed to cover more surface area and typically include at least one cusp. Made from resin, metal, ceramic, or zirconia, inlays and onlays are often made in a dental lab. However, because Dr. Mercado uses CEREC® technology, we can create same-day restorations for qualifying patients.
Large cavities cannot be treated with dental fillings. When significant decay has developed, your dentist will likely recommend a dental crown. This tooth-shaped restoration is designed to add strength, stability, and reinforcement. Crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, all-ceramic, zirconia, and porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM). Qualifying patients can have same-day crowns fabricated at our office in a single visit.
Root Canal Therapy
Left untreated, a minor cavity can progress. Eventually, the bacteria can breach the pulp chamber and cause an infection. When this occurs, the only way to save the tooth from extraction is with root canal therapy. During this treatment, Dr. Mercado removes the inflamed nerves and tissues from inside the tooth and replaces them with a filling material. The tooth is then sealed with a filling, and a crown is often added for optimal support.
As dental professionals, we are in the business of saving teeth. Unfortunately, there are some cases in which decay is so extensive that the tooth cannot be saved. In these instances, the tooth must be removed to keep the problem from spreading to neighboring teeth.
Once the tooth has been extracted, it is important to replace it as soon as possible. Your Castle Hills dentist may recommend a bridge or dental implant to complete your smile and restore your oral health.
What about Cavity Prevention?
Now that we have explored treatments for cavities, we will look at ways to stop decay before it even starts. Cavity prevention is an essential aspect of your oral health care regimen.
- Ask about fluoride treatments. Topical fluoride helps to remineralize the enamel damaged by acid erosion. As a result, the risk of cavities is reduced.
- Consider dental sealants. Chewing teeth sometimes have deep fissures or pits that can trap food and bacteria. Dental sealants protect the teeth and reduce the risk of cavities.
- Practice good oral hygiene. At minimum, individuals should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Ask Dr. Mercado for specific hygiene tips and product recommendations.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Routine checkups allow us to keep your oral health in check and detect problems before they worsen. When cavities are addressed early, treatment is both less invasive and less costly.
Contact Our Practice to Learn More
If you suspect a cavity, schedule an appointment at our Castle Hills practice right away. Dr. Mercado has the skill and experience necessary to address your needs. Contact us online or call us at (210) 732-4570.