The Link Between Cavities and Tooth Loss

September 23, 2016 — by Kenneth W. Coffey, DDS
Tags: Tooth Decay Restorative Dentistry

A woman at home smilingThe people of Orland Park know that they can come to our dental practice for their general dental car needs as well as more advanced procedures. We are proud to offer the latest in restorative dentistry treatments, ones which can improve the health and overall appearance of a person's smile.

Some of the most common procedures we perform each day involve addressing cavities since it can lead to many other serious problems, including tooth loss. Let's discuss this issue in more detail.

What Are Cavities?

Also known as dental caries and tooth decay, cavities refer to damage to the tooth structure caused by the oral bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth. This oral bacteria feeds on food particles, creating acidity in the process. The oral bacteria, food particles, acid, and saliva in your mouth creates a biofilm called plaque that allows the bacteria to remain in place. This can lead to major damage to your teeth.

Progression of Tooth Decay

In its earliest stages, cavities affect just the topmost layer of the tooth, which is comprised of enamel. In later stages of tooth decay, the cavity can penetrate into the lower layers of a tooth, resulting in serious damage, perhaps even eating into the pulp chamber a the center of a tooth.

Given the damage done, you may see why untreated cavities can lead to tooth loss. Let's look at some specific reasons why this is the case.

Weakening of the Teeth

When tooth decay eats into a tooth, the result is a weaker tooth that is more likely to break or fall out. A weakened tooth may become broken from regular biting and chewing, even food items that are soft.

Greater Risk of Root Canal Infection

Inside of every tooth, as noted above, is a pulp chamber. This is a hollow portion of the tooth that houses a substance known as dental pulp. The dental pulp is comprised of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels that were necessary for the maturation of the tooth.

When bacteria reaches the pulp chamber, it can infect the dental pulp, resulting in a painful root canal infection. In a number of cases, the tooth cannot be saved if it's seriously infected. To prevent spread of infection and to alleviate pain, tooth extraction is necessary.

Treatments for Cavities

When it comes to treating cavities, the best options are the use of dental restorations. These help rebuild missing or compromised tooth structure. Common types of dental restorations include:

  • Dental fillings
  • Inlays
  • Onlays
  • Dental crowns

Metal restorations or tooth-colored restorations may be used as needed.

Treatments for Missing Teeth

When it comes to treating tooth loss, the most common options include:

  • Dental bridges
  • Partial dentures
  • Full dentures

It is also possible to have dental implants placed in order to support the above appliances. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots surgically embedded into the jawbone and gum tissue.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

To prevent cavities, the best options to consider involve proper oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss at least once a night
  • Avoid snacking on candy and sugary junk food
  • Reduce your consumption of soft drinks
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Learn More About Restorative Dentistry

If you would like more information about treating tooth loss and restoring the beauty of your smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Our dental care team will work with you and offer advanced dental treatment.

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