As children, when we were introduced to the basic concepts of good oral health, we were taught that the purpose behind brushing and flossing was to ward off cavities. As we grew, we became aware of other threats to our teeth and gums, including periodontal disease and root canal infections, but for many of us, cavities retained their grip on our consciousness. We brushed and flossed and visited our local restorative dentistry practice regularly because we wanted no part of those dreaded cavities.
Yet, most people, including many who brush, floss, and visit the dentist at least somewhat regularly, have experienced at least one cavity in their lives. Unfortunately, when the enamel that protects our teeth is eroded or otherwise damaged, the underlying layer of the teeth becomes highly vulnerable to decay. Dental caries – the holes and crevices that we refer to colloquially as cavities – can easily form in the teeth at this point.
Fortunately, we offer a variety of outstanding treatment options for cavities at our Rancho Santa Margarita, CA restorative dentistry practice, SoCal Smiles Dentistry. These options not only restore structural integrity to teeth damaged by cavities, but also a stunningly natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
The Most Common Treatments for Cavities
All treatments for cavities begin with the removal of any damaged material from the affected tooth. This is necessary to contain the spread of decay. Once this has been accomplished, one of our dentists will then reconstruct the tooth, restoring its full form and function. This is done using one of three possible methods, depending on the amount of structure missing from the tooth:
- Tooth-colored filling: For many decades, dentists used metal materials such as silver amalgam to fill small cavities. While these fillings were durable and functional, they were also conspicuous and cosmetically unappealing. Modern fillings, however, are made of a composite resin that blends seamlessly into the smile while withstanding the pressures of daily use. While there is no definitive evidence that metal fillings pose a health hazard, it is worth noting that tooth-colored fillings are also free from mercury.
- Inlays and onlays: Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are ceramic restorations that are used to fill cavities that are too large to support composite resin fillings. Inlays and onlays are bonded directly to teeth. Inlays fill cavities that occur within the protruding cusps of a tooth, while onlays fill cavities that have spread to one or more of the cusps.
- Dental crowns: If a cavity is particularly large, it may not be possible for the tooth to support a filling, an inlay, or an onlay. In such cases, it may be advisable to cover the entire visible surface area of the tooth with a dental crown. A dental crown is custom-crafted to mimic a tooth in its appearance and function while protecting the natural tooth from further harm from bacteria and other elements.
Learn More about Treatment Options for Cavities
If you would like to learn more about the treatment options we offer for cavities, please contact SoCal Smiles Dentistry today.