Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health concerns in America. Affecting both children and adults, tooth decay is a preventable disease with oral health care. Tooth decay is a leading cause of tooth loss and can require complex restorative dental procedures if left untreated. A dental infection can create holes or pits in the teeth called cavities. If you have a tooth cavity, we provide treatments in Santa Monica, CA, to remove tooth decay and prevent reinfection.
Dr. Fabrizio Dall’Olmo is a highly trained and experienced dentist with over 20 years of clinical experience. He can treat complex restorative oral health concerns. Dr. Dall’Olmo has built his dental practice around providing patient-focused conservative dental treatment plans. His treatments can enhance and protect patient’s oral health. He uses his conservative approach to treating infections and tooth cavities.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Almost everyone experiences tooth decay at least once in their lives. The two biggest causes are poor oral hygiene and your diet. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque builds up on your teeth.
Plaque is a sticky film made of bacteria and food particles. As the bacteria consume the food particles, they release an acidic byproduct that wears through the tooth enamel. Visiting the dentist regularly is also essential to preventing tooth decay.
Regularly consuming foods and beverages with lots of sugar or acid makes you more likely to experience tooth decay. Acidic foods and drinks directly erode your tooth enamel. Sugary foods increase food for the bacteria.
Frequent daily snacking prolongs the time sugars and acids affect your teeth. Your mouth and saliva don’t have enough time to neutralize the acids. Your teeth are constantly exposed to acids. A healthy, balanced diet is required to keep your tooth enamel healthy to protect the inner layers of your teeth. Calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D are essential nutrients for your smile.
Dry mouth has a more significant impact on your smile and tooth decay than you may realize. Saliva is essential for neutralizing acids in your mouth, washing food particles away, and remineralizing your teeth. Certain medications and health conditions make you more likely to have dry mouth. If you have reduced saliva, you may need to increase the liquid in your mouth to combat the effects.
Tooth Decay: Signs and Symptoms
Recognizing common signs of tooth decay helps you detect the problem early. Just because it’s a common problem doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. If you leave tooth decay untreated, it can lead to things like infections and tooth loss.
Sensitivity and Discomfort
Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms patients report. You usually experience sudden sensitivity or pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic things when you didn’t have this reaction before. This occurs when the infection reaches the dentin layer beneath the enamel.
If the decay reaches the inner layer of the dental pulp, you usually have a more constant, throbbing pain. Never ignore a toothache. It often indicates a serious dental problem.
You may also experience pain when chewing or biting down on certain foods. Putting pressure on certain areas causes pain and discomfort. Infection weakens your tooth structures. You may then avoid chewing on that side of your mouth, causing uneven chewing habits.
You may see and feel the decay. Often, cavities are little holes or pits in the tooth caused by acid. As harmful bacteria feed on sugars and starches, their digestive acids break down the tooth enamel. The surface of your tooth is rough and feels different when you run your tongue across it. Usually, they turn black or brown due to their decay.
As the decay keeps moving through the layers of the teeth, the whole tooth may look darker. Your tooth becomes dull and discolored.
Not all tooth decay produces noticeable symptoms. This is true in the early stages. Regular dental appointments are essential for detecting this kind of decay. We perform dental X-rays each time you have your dental check-ups. X-rays can detect tooth decay between the teeth and in the early stages before you notice it.
Treating a Tooth Cavity in Santa Monica, CA
Your treatment for tooth decay will vary depending on the decay’s stage, location, and size. Dr. Dall’Olmo will always recommend that patients pursue the most conservative treatment plan possible to keep the natural tooth. Preserving as much of the natural tooth supports long-term oral stability and protects the smile’s integrity.
A dental filling is a common treatment option for a tooth cavity in our Santa Monica, CA office. A cavity filling treats small and medium cavities. When we place a filling, we first remove the decayed part of the tooth and sterilize the area.
Usually, we use composite resin fillings. White fillings match the tooth’s color, so they blend in easily. Not only does this tooth filling restore strength in your tooth, but it also prevents further decay.
When decay reaches the dental pulp in the deepest layers of the tooth, you need a root canal. The infected dental pulp swells and puts pressure on the walls of the tooth, causing pain. We relieve the pain by removing the infected pulp, sanitizing the area, and replacing the pulp with a biocompatible material.
Usually, a dental crown completes the restoration, seals the tooth further from infection, and provides more support. A crown is a cap that fully covers the tooth.
In severe cases of decay, only a dental crown has a chance of salvaging natural tooth structure. Crowns completely cover the remnants of the tooth that are left after cleaning out decay. They provide protection and strength so that you can keep your tooth root. The tooth root is vital for your tooth’s aesthetics and function.
In the most severe situations, we must perform a tooth extraction. A deep cavity or infection will wear down the tooth until we cannot save it. Tooth removal is the last possible choice we consider because of the impact it has on your oral health.
After you lose a permanent tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, and the facial muscles begin to sag. We offer multiple tooth replacement options — particularly dental implants — to avoid this.
Treat Cavities Today
Receive a comfortable root canal, filling, or tooth extraction to treat dental cavities. Schedule a dental appointment with Dr. Dall’Olmo online. Call to treat your tooth cavity in our Santa Monica, CA, office today at (310) 736-1051. Please get in touch with us if you have questions about dental cavity treatment. We’re here to help you.