There are multiple dental services that can be used to treat a cavity. Here are a few of them.
A cavity develops as bacterial acids dissolve the tooth material. Without treatment, the cavity may continue to grow, becoming larger and deeper. A dental filling is used to fill the hole in a tooth after the removal of any additional decay.
When applying a filling, the dentist prepares the tooth by drilling away any decay. Only the healthy tooth material is left in place. The dentist then fills the hole with a suitable filling.
If the cavity is small, a filling is often sufficient to restore the look and functionality of the tooth. However, if the cavity is quite large, the filled tooth may require a dental cap for added structural support and protection.
If a cavity grows deep enough, it penetrates the innermost layer of the tooth, which is called the pulp. Unlike the enamel and the dentin, the pulp is a soft, living material. It contains the blood vessels and the nerves of the tooth.
When a cavity reaches the pulp, the hole allows bacteria to enter. The microbial invasion can cause a tooth infection, inflaming or killing the pulp and permanently damaging the nerves. After the pulp is irreparably damaged, the tooth can only be salvaged by a root canal procedure.
When a dentist performs a root canal treatment, they remove the pulp and fill the empty tooth. They then add a dental crown to protect and fortify it.
In extreme cases of decay, a cavity may grow so large that too little tooth material is available to restore it with a filling or a crown. When there is too little tooth material for a restoration, the dentist must extract the tooth.
A simple extraction is performed if enough tooth material lies above the gum line to avoid cutting the gingival tissues for the tooth's removal. However, when the tooth has decayed so extensively that the remaining tooth material is covered by a portion of the gums, the tooth must be surgically extracted.
To restore a tooth after an extraction, a prosthetic application such as a bridge or dental implant is needed. Still, the removal of the tooth is necessary to prevent decay from spreading to other teeth or affecting the jawbone.
If you believe that you have a cavity and need treatment, schedule a consultation with a dentist in your area.