If you have a cavity, the last thing you should do is put off getting care for it. It can be scary for some people to face the dental drill, but it's important to remember that it's a painless procedure and that the sooner you get your teeth taken care of, the less intensive and time-consuming treatment will be. Here are the three stages of care for a cavity that a dentist follows, depending on the severity of the cavity.
The easiest way to care for a cavity is to simply drill it and fill it. This is when a dentist uses a tiny dental drill to remove the decayed part of the tooth and then fills it with a filling that hardens and takes up the role of the wall of the tooth.
Most cavities can be filled early on, and that's all the treatment that they need. However, the longer you wait to get a cavity filled, the bigger it's likely to become. When that happens, you'll need something a little more intensive to fix it.
A root canal is the second option for fixing a tooth with a bad cavity. This is only done when the cavity has advanced to the point where it's damaging the pulp of the tooth.
At this point, a root canal becomes necessary because the pulp of the tooth is rotting away. If the pulp isn't fully removed, this process will continue until the entire tooth is lost.
A root canal is simply a more in-depth version of having a tooth drilled. Instead of drilling a small hole and then filling it, the tooth is drilled more deeply, the pulp is fully removed, and then a filling is utilized. Depending on the severity of the hole that was created to remove the cavity, a crown may also be necessary to cover the tooth.
Despite some people's anxiety about root canals, this is still a simple process and one that's quite painless.
Tooth extractions are the final option for dealing with a tooth that has a cavity, and it's something that your dentist isn't going to want to do unless you leave them no choice. This is only an option once the tooth has become so decayed that the decay goes through straight from one side of the tooth to the other, and has severely damaged the pulp in the process. If a tooth is this damaged there's no saving it, and it has to be completely pulled.
Tooth extraction is more trouble to get through than a filling or root canal. While these two procedures allow you to go back to your daily life right away, a tooth extraction requires general anesthesia and recovery time afterward. Needless to say, it's something you should try to avoid if possible.
Getting a filling or a root canal is no big deal, and it's a heck of a lot better than having to say goodbye to your tooth. If you've been putting off getting dental help, stop and get to a dentist right away while you still have your first two options available to you.