Tooth decay is not a problem that can be put off. The longer you put off treatment, the greater the damage. It is always better to catch decay early to preserve as much of your tooth as possible.
The best treatment for a cavity depends on the extent of decay. The treatment should also be the most conservative option, that is, a cosmetic dentistry treatment that stops decay but keeps as much of the tooth as possible. Dr. Thomas G. Zarger, Jr., a cosmetic dentist serving greater Knoxville, offers restoration treatments geared to each stage of tooth decay, ensuring the appropriate treatment is employed.
Tooth Decay Treatments
Here is a list of top treatments, starting with the most conservative one:
Fluoride can help repair teeth, but for only the most minimal damage to tooth enamel. Professional fluoride treatments, which contain more fluoride than over-the-counter products, may be able to reverse damage to the enamel.
Fillings are the most common repair for minor cavities. The treatment is best for decay that is caught at an early stage, before much tooth is lost. Treatment involves removing the decayed portion of the tooth and replacing it with a filling. Filling materials include silver amalgam, composite resin, and porcelain.
Inlays and Onlays
If cavities have spread to a large portion of the tooth crown, inlays or onlays may be required. In this treatment, the decay is removed and an impression of the remaining tooth is made to create the inlay or onlay, which is made of the same materials used for fillings. Inlays or onlays bond to the tooth, restoring its shape and function.
- Inlays replace damaged areas in the middle of the tooth crown when decay has not reached the top ridges of the tooth, the cusps.
- Onlays are used when decay includes the upper ridges of the tooth. The onlay fills the cavity and replaces the top portion of a tooth.
If decay is extensive, then a dental crown covering all sides of the tooth is needed to protect the tooth and provide support. Crowns can be made from most tooth-replacement materials, though many people opt for porcelain crowns to protect the natural look of their smile.
As with the other restorations, removing tooth decay is the first step in preparing for a crown. The tooth is then shaped to allow the crown to slide over it. An impression is made of the tooth and the crown is created to encase it. The crown is then bonded permanently to the tooth.
Severe decay that reaches the inner root of a tooth may require a root canal. In this procedure, the interior root of a tooth is removed. The canal is then cleaned and filled. A dental crown may be applied to protect and strengthen the tooth.
All treatments are effective in stopping decay. Which treatment you need depends on the extent of decay in your tooth. To better understand the appropriate treatment, please call us for an appointment. A consultation will allow us to determine the appropriate treatment for you.