What is a cavity?

shutterstock_108718781Tooth decay is another way of describing the word “cavity.” A cavity is actually the result of getting bacteria stuck on your teeth, which forms plaque and then causes your tooth enamel to break down. When you eat and drink foods that have sugar, the bacteria will produce acids that break through the enamel and cause the plaque to form into the cavity.

Since cavities are predominantly caused by lifestyle habits, including what people eat and drink, teeth brushing habits, and drinking fluoridated water, there are usually ways to avoid tooth decay. So, let’s cover different types of cavities, diagnosis and prevention tips:

Types of cavities:
There are three main types of cavities:  coronal, root, and recurrent decay. A coronal cavity is most common for children and adults and is usually on the teeth’s chewing surface or in-between the teeth. Root cavities happen when receding gums give way to exposed tooth roots, which are highly susceptible to decay. Finally, recurrent decay is when a cavity forms around existing fillings or crowns. Oftentimes, the areas around existing fillings continue to accumulate plaque and would therefore be more likely to continue to decay if not properly cared for.

Cavity diagnosis and treatment:
The only way to properly diagnose a cavity is to come in for a check-up at our Fort Myers office here at Shane McDowell Dentistry. Over the years as people age, fillings from existing teeth can weaken or leak around the edges, tooth-root decay can occur, as well as just getting the typical coronal cavities from every day habits. We have many treatment options that are safe, comfortable and most-importantly – protect your teeth from further decay.

Prevention tips:
Our most critical piece of advice is to always brush your teeth at least twice a day for two full minutes. In addition to brushing your teeth, a thorough flossing at least once a day, along with eating nutritious and balanced meals (limiting sugar intake) will help do wonders for your dental health. And last, but not least, by visiting our dental practice twice a year for professional cleanings and oral examinations, you can rest assured that you have an ally in mouth healthy living today and always!

At Shane McDowell Dentistry we are here to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have with your oral health. Please call 239-936-0597 or visit www.myfortmyersdentist.com/appointment to schedule an appointment with our experienced and friendly staff today.

Crowns: A Royal Pain?

So you’ve had some dental work and learned that a filling won’t do this time. You need to come back for a crown – a tooth-shaped cap that restores the tooth’s shape, size, appearance and strength. You learn that not only does the procedure cost more than a filling; it could require several visits to complete. It may not be the news you wanted, but crowns are an important procedure used to preserve a tooth or teeth that have been badly damaged, by accident or by tooth decay.

This is possibly the most common scenario for a crown. However, crowns can be applied for cosmetic reasons too. Sometimes, we can predict when a crown will be necessary based on the scope of visible decay to be repaired. Other times, the problem is worse than it looks, and the need for a crown only becomes apparent after work begins. What looks like a simple fix turns into a root canal, a more invasive procedure sometimes required to fix the tooth, and a larger portion of the tooth is removed. A crown is needed to protect the newly exposed areas of the tooth, and to give it strength to prevent future damage.

Step 1: The Temporary Crown

After removing all decay, if necessary, leaving as much healthy tooth as possible, a temporary filling or crown is applied to protect the tooth from exposure to bacteria while you wait for permanent crown to be applied. If you plan to return for the crown soon, which is ideal, a temporary filling will be applied. If for any reason it may be a while before you can return for a crown, let us know and a temporary crown will be applied. If the temporary filling comes out, which can occur due to normal use, return to us for a replacement as soon as possible. Temporary crowns are usually more secure, but should also be replaced immediately if necessary.

Step 2: Preparing for a Crown

The sooner you can have the temporary filling or crown replaced the better as these are not intended to be long-term solutions. We recommend you return within two weeks to be fitted for a crown. We will prepare the tooth and take impressions for a customized crown to be made. Permanent crowns can be made from stainless steel, all metal (such as gold or another alloy), porcelain-fused-to-metal, all resin, or all ceramic. The crown will fit your tooth exactly and protect it from damage and decay if taken care of properly.

Step 3: Applying the Crown

Once the customized crown is created, the final step is to remove the temporary crown, check the fit and color, and finally cement the crown into place. It will fully encase the visible portion of the tooth.

If this sounds like a “royal pain,” remember, the alternative is tooth extraction, a less attractive option that can lead to additional dental health problems in the future. Be sure to talk to us about your options, including all the pros and cons of crowns and extractions, so we can help you make the best decision.

Crowns can also be used to protect a weak tooth, restore a broken or severely worn tooth, to hold a dental bridge in place, to cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth, to cover a dental implant or to make a cosmetic modification.

For a consultation, please call our office at 239-936-0597 or make your appointment online at http://www.myfortmyersdentist.com/.

Turn To Dr. Shane McDowell for Your General Dentistry Needs

Dr. Shane McDowell

Trust your dental health to Dr. Shane McDowell for all your dental care needs, from examinations and cleanings to restorative procedures such as root canals, extractions and gum treatments. Dr. McDowell and his team provide the full array of dental care services with special attention to your comfort and health.

  • Root Canals
  • Gum Treatment
  • Partials
  • Dentures
  • Extractions
  • Tooth Decay
  • Bad Breath
  • Oral Cancer
  • Nutrition and Oral Health