When Should a Cavity Be Filled?

Posted on September 12, 2018 by:

Cavities may be an uncommon occurrence for most people, but they can also be fairly prevalent among different age groups.  A cavity is an area of decay on the tooth that involves a breakdown of your enamel, and can be very hard for you to detect without an examination during your regular check-up appointments. They’re perfectly preventable with good home care and routine visits to the dentist; however, it’s important to know what your treatment options may look like if you or your dentist detect one, so here are some factors that can lead to the need for a filling (a restoration intended to repair and restore any damaged tooth structure).

Does My Tooth Need a Filling?

In the very early stages of a cavity (which is most often diagnosed at your regular appointments using a digital radiograph), it can sometimes be treated at home with regular use of fluoride. This substance can re-mineralize the teeth and restore your enamel, leading to an arrest in the development of shallow cavities, and sometimes even a complete repair! Fluoride usually comes in the form of toothpaste, drinking water, and good rinses.  If you have a large number of cavities, Dr. Schultz may also recommend prescription-strength toothpaste to help prevent further damage.  Good brushing and flossing habits can also help to prevent cavities, as well as regular screenings and cleanings with your dentist. Dr. Schultz can also assess your diet, and recommend the elimination or modification of any foods or drinks that could be causing them.

Has the Cavity Reached the Root of My Tooth?

If cavities are left untreated, the decay can reach all the way down to the root of the tooth and into the tissues underneath it, causing infection. In this case, a filling will not be sufficient, and you may need to see an endodontist to perform a root canal. This procedure removes the infected pulp that makes up the deep interior of the tooth before sealing it to ensure the remaining tooth structure is protected.

Is It a Baby Tooth?

There can be some nuances involved with deciding whether or not to fill baby teeth if they show signs of a cavity, but generally, they should be filled if there will be a significant amount of time before the permanent teeth begin to come in. As with adult teeth, a cavity in a baby tooth can still cause problems with the surrounding area if it’s left untreated; however, Dr. Schultz can give you the best treatment recommendations for your child, depending on their age and dental health.

At Schultz Family Dental, we always ensure you’re comfortable and educated about your treatment options, as well as ways to prevent cavities. Contact us to schedule an appointment to create YOUR unique treatment plan!