Cavities and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the process of a tooth’s mineral content being dissolved. A cavity, or caries, is a hole in a tooth that is caused by tooth decay.


Do I have a cavity?

If you experience pain when eating something cold or sweet, and the pain goes away fairly quickly, you may have a cavity. If it is a cavity, the sooner you get it taken care of, the less severe the damage will be. A toothache that is not sensitive to cold may have another cause. See us at Dental Associates of Delaware in our Brandywine Office, Hockessin Office, Middletown Office, Wilmington Office, and Millsboro Office for proper diagnosis and treatment.


What causes tooth decay?

The foods we eat react with the bacteria in our mouth to form acids that can eat away and decay the hard tissue of our teeth. Plaque is the bacteria most responsible for tooth decay.


What is a cavity?

A cavity, or caries, is the actual hole in the tooth that is caused by the decay from the foods we eat reacting with the bacteria in our mouth to form acids that can eat away and decay the hard tissue of our teeth.


What will Dental Associates of Delaware do to fix my cavity?

Simple cavities are treated with a filling. We will use a drill or dental instrument to remove the decayed tooth tissue, and replace that removed tooth structure with a filling. The filling will either be a metal amalgam, or will be a tooth-colored composite. Some cavities are too large for a filling. If the damage is very extensive, and too much of the tooth tissue has decayed, our dentists at Dental Associates of Delaware may recommend a dental crown. If the cavity has been left untreated, and the tooth has become infected, this serious condition is called an abscess, which might require a root canal. The sooner you have your tooth examined, the more options your dentist will have to preserve your natural tooth.


How can I prevent cavities?

The best prevention is to floss and brush your teeth twice a day, especially after meals or snacks. Brushing helps remove plaque, the bacteria that forms on teeth, which is the major cause of tooth decay. Dental floss can get into the spaces between teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.


Why should I take care of a toothache?

First, a toothache could be a sign of a non-dental problem, and not a problem with the tooth itself. If the problem is with the tooth, early treatment is important, because we want you to keep as much original tooth structure as possible. An early cavity can be filled before the tooth abscesses and needs a root canal. An early abscess can be treated with a root canal, instead of tooth extraction. A tooth that is too far damaged and infected may have to be extracted to prevent further damage to the mouth, and extraction is always our last resort.