Tooth decay affects many people, and it's most often caused by plaque. Plaque is a soft substance that forms on your teeth when bacteria comes into contact with your saliva. The foods you eat can encourage the growth of plaque, especially if you eat a lot of sugary food, since bacteria thrive on sugar. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you're suffering from tooth decay by examining your teeth an taking x-rays to get a clearer view. It's important to have dental decay treated as quickly as possible, since it won't heal on its own and it can worsen over time. Here are four treatments your dentist may use to restore your teeth:
1. Dental Drilling
When you have tooth decay, your dentist's first step is getting rid of any diseased tooth matter. They will use a dental drill to remove the affected parts of your tooth. This shouldn't be painful, since your dentist will administer anesthetic shots to the area around your tooth ahead of time. If you're troubled by the noise of the drill, listening to music may help.
2. Dental Bonding
After your dentist removes decaying tooth matter, they will need to replace it with something. This is where dental bonding comes in. The most common dental bonding material is composite resin that is the same shade as your natural teeth. Your dentist will apply this to the area they drilled away, then use a special light device to harden it.
3. Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are often used in conjunction with root canal therapy, but your dentist may utilize them even without a root canal. Dental crowns can be used to reinforce any weak tooth. If your dentist had to remove a large portion of your tooth before applying dental bonding materials, the resultant structure will be more delicate. Very large fillings can fall out spontaneously, but a dental crown will be able to prevent this.
4. Root Canal Therapy
If the damage to your teeth is extensive to the point that it's impacting your tooth's nerve and root system, your dentist may recommend root canal therapy. A root canal can be performed by a specialist called an endodontist, but many general dentists also perform this treatment. During root canal therapy, your dentist will drill into your tooth's roots to clean out any infection and decay present. They will then fill the empty spaces with a material similar to rubber. A crown will be placed on the tooth following root canal therapy in order to protect it.
Contact a dentist, like Dr. Jon Douglas Lesan, DDS, RpH, PA, to learn more.