Cavities Specialist

Sunrise Dental of Seattle - Ballard

General Dentistry located in Seattle, WA

Cavities are one of the most common health problems in the world and can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss. Thankfully, cavities are entirely preventable with good oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist, but should you develop a cavity, the talented team of dental professionals at Sunrise Dental Seattle - Ballard can take care of it. The expert team in Seattle identifies and treats cavities before they can cause serious problems. To learn more, schedule an appointment today by calling the office or request an appointment online.

Cavities Q & A

What are cavities?

Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are areas of permanent damage in your enamel, or the outer hard surfaces of your teeth. Cavities develop into tiny holes that burrow down through the layers of your teeth, causing more severe damage the deeper they go. If left untreated, cavities can lead to a number of complications, such as:

  • Tooth pain
  • Tooth abscess (a pocket of swelling and pus around the tooth)
  • Permanently damaged or broken teeth
  • Inability to properly chew
  • Tooth loss

Cavities are most common in children, teenagers, and older adults, but anybody who has teeth is at risk of developing cavities, including babies.

What causes cavities?

Plaque, a sticky, colorless substance that forms on your teeth when you eat food or drink liquids that contain sugar or starch, causes cavities. Plaque is made up of bacteria and acids that proper brushing and flossing easily remove. If left to build upon the surface of your teeth, the acids in plaque begin to break down the minerals in your tooth’s hard outer layer, or enamel.

If a cavity is left untreated, the decay can eventually work its way through the next layer of your tooth, the dentin, and into the soft pulp in your tooth’s center, where it can become incredibly painful. Cavities that reach the root of your tooth may require a root canal to treat the infection.

What are the symptoms of cavities?

You may not notice any symptoms of cavity development at first, which is why it’s incredibly important to maintain regular visits with your dentist, who will be able to see any cavities forming during your routine cleaning and exam. As a cavity worsens, you might experience:

  • Spontaneous toothache or increased sensitivity
  • Moderate or severe pain when eating or drinking things that are sweet, hot, or cold
  • Visible holes in your teeth
  • Staining on the surface of your teeth
  • Pain when biting

If left untreated and allowed to reach the dentin or pulp, a cavity can lead to severe infection and even tooth loss.

How are cavities treated?

The best treatment for cavities is to prevent them from occurring at all, which is easily accomplished with proper at-home care like brushing and flossing. Using a fluoride-containing toothpaste and reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks can also help reduce your risk of developing cavities.

If you’ve already developed a cavity, the dental professionals at Sunrise Dental are well-versed in a number of procedures that can treat the decay, such as:

Fluoride treatments

If your cavity is in its early stages, applying a concentrated amount of fluoride to your affected tooth can help to restore the enamel and sometimes even reverse the development of a cavity.

Fillings

Fillings are the most common treatment for cavities and involve removing the decay with a drill and “filling in” the hole with a sealing material like a tooth-colored composite resin or a metal amalgam.

Crowns

More advanced cavities can require a crown, which is a procedure where a significant portion of the decayed tooth is drilled away and replaced with a new top made from porcelain, resin, gold, or a number of other materials.

Root canal

If your cavity has reached and infected the pulp of your tooth, a root canal procedure can be performed to remove the diseased pulp.

Tooth extraction

Sometimes a cavity can cause such severe decay in your tooth that it’s actually healthier to just remove the tooth altogether. Tooth extractions can be followed up with bridge procedures or dental implants to replace the missing tooth.

Don’t wait for your cavity to develop into a bigger problem than it needs to be. Schedule a dental checkup today with the friendly and knowledgeable team of dentists at Sunrise Dental. You can call the office or use the convenient online booking tool.