Dental cavities are decayed areas of your teeth that turn into tiny holes in the outer layers, known as the enamel and dentin. Cavities affect up to 90 percent of people in the US and are most common in children and young adults.
Cavities are caused by a buildup of bacteria, food particles and saliva in the teeth that turns into plaque, a film that coats your teeth. Since plaque is acidic, it can attack the tooth enamel and cause decay. Regular cleaning helps keep plaque away, but decay can often occur in the back teeth, which are harder to clean.
Symptoms of cavities vary depending on the severity and location. Many people do not experience any symptoms when decay is just beginning, but may later experience:
- Tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain while eating or drinking certain things
- Visible holes in the teeth
Treatment for cavities depends on the severity of the condition, which is why it is important to seek medical attention as early as possible. Treatment options may include fluoride treatments, fillings, crowns and root canal. Practicing good tooth healthcare is most important in preventing cavities.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap used to replace damaged or missing teeth to restore the appearance of the smile and help protect against further damage and conditions such as gum disease. They can be made from many different materials, including metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal or all-resin. Your dentist will help you decide which type of crown is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
Dental crowns are placed during a series of two office visits. This first involves preparing the tooth and creating an impression from which the crown is made. The tooth is also thoroughly cleaned and shaped during this appointment, and a temporary crown is placed. The permanent crown is then placed with cement after a few weeks.
For most patients, dental crowns last for at least seven years, but many can last for decades and provide a strong, reliable tooth replacement with no special care needed. However, it is important for patients to clean their crown like their regular teeth, and to see their dentist on a regular basis for professional care.
Dentures are prosthetic devices designed to help patients with missing teeth perform daily activities that would otherwise be difficult. Patients who have lost their natural teeth due to decay, periodontal disease or injury may suffer from further decay, and difficulty eating and speaking. The absence of teeth can also lead to a sunken, collapsed appearance in the mouth area. By restoring the physical presence of teeth, this malformation is corrected and the patient can maintain their normal appearance.
There are three types of dentures: full (complete) dentures, fixed partial dentures and removable partial dentures. Most patients only require partial dentures, as they are only missing a few teeth. Additionally, most partial dentures are fixed in place by the crown-and-bridge technique, and those who possess removable partial dentures are usually exempt from the fixed version due to complicating factors.
When considering having dentures made, a denturist or prosthodontist is generally recommended over a dentist, with the exception of those dentists who are exceptionally experienced and detailed. Maxillary (top teeth) dentures tend to achieve better unification with the toothless gums due to the improvement in suction from the smooth surface. However, mandibular (bottom teeth) dentures are much more effective if the patient still retains some teeth.