Tooth decay is one of the most common dental issues. Approximately 80% of people will have a cavity by the time they are in their 30s. There are several types of cavities, depending on their location. One of the hardest to spot is an interproximal cavity because it is located between the teeth.
A tooth cavity is a hole that develops in the tooth due to decay. A cavity forms when acids in the mouth erode the tooth enamel. Anyone is susceptible to developing a cavity- but proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits can reduce your risk. Dental professionals also refer to them as dental caries.
There are three common types of tooth cavities, depending on where they develop:
According to dental professionals, cavities are one of the most common chronic dental issues impacting people of all ages. In fact, over 80% of Americans have at least one cavity by the time they are in their 30s.
While anyone can get a cavity, it is most common among children because most of them do not brush properly or regularly and are more likely to consume sugary foods and beverages. However, adults may also develop them. Many times, new decay can develop around cavities treated in childhood. Additionally, adults are more susceptible to receding gums, which exposes the tooth roots to bacteria and plaque buildup.
There are several factors that can cause or contribute to the formation of tooth decay, including:
Bacteria feed on carbohydrates from foods and beverages, converting them into acids. In addition, bacteria, acid, food, and saliva combine to create dental plaque, a sticky substance that forms a coating on teeth.
Proper oral care habits including brushing and flossing properly and regularly can remove plaque and bacteria. However, left untreated, plaque can dissolve tooth enamel, which creates cavities in the tooth. If not addressed early, the erosion can continue into the dentin and ultimately, the dental pulp.
There are several signs and symptoms of tooth decay, depending on the location and severity. In some cases, you may not have any symptoms at all. However, as the decay spreads, you may experience:
In some cases, you may not even notice an interproximal cavity due to its location. The dentist or hygienist may spot it on an x-ray before it spreads.
Brushing your teeth can help a lot when it comes to cavity prevention. Unfortunately, brushing alone won’t prevent interproximal cavities because they are located between your teeth. Therefore, it’s important to also floss at least once daily. A water flosser is best for cleaning between teeth, especially if you have sensitive gums.
In addition to proper oral hygiene practices, you can reduce your risk of developing cavities by:
There are several different procedures that can be used to treat an interproximal cavity based on the severity.
If detected early, and the cavity doesn’t extend far into the enamel, fluoride gel can be used to recalcify the tooth.
If the cavity extends deeper into the enamel, a dental filling can be used to restore appearance and function. The decay will be drilled out and the hole will be filled with composite resin, porcelain, amalgam, gold, or silver.
If left untreated for an extended period of time, a cavity can affect the dental pulp, which is the center of the tooth. If this happens, the best course of treatment is root canal therapy. This involves drilling a hole in the tooth and removing the pulp. Then, the inside of the tooth will be disinfected to remove any remaining bacteria/infection and filled with a biocompatible material to support it from the inside. The tooth will then be sealed with a dental filling and, if necessary, a crown will be placed over it to protect it.
A dental crown is a cap that fits over a damaged/decayed tooth to protect it. A crown is used if a cavity is too large for a dental filling or to protect the structure of a tooth after root canal treatment. There are several different materials used for dental crowns including porcelain, metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or composite resin.
Your dentist will always strive to salvage the natural tooth when possible. However, there are situations in which extraction is the only option- especially if there is a risk that the infection may spread into the jawbone. There are two types of extractions: simple and surgical. The space left from the extracted tooth should be replaced as soon as possible with a dental implant, bridge, or partial denture to prevent further issues.
Ammons Dental By Design blog is proudly run by our South Carolina Dental Team. We love to share knowledge and tips about the best dental care and practices. Apart from running this blog, we offer general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, emergency dental care, and dental implants for the community in areas around Charleston, South Carolina. We have 4 clinics in Downtown Charleston, James Island, Summerville and Camden, SC
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