Did you know? Cavities are actually quite common. While we all strive to avoid them, the reality is that 91% of people between the ages of 20 and 64 in the U.S. have at least one cavity. In fact, cavities are the second most common health disorder in the world (right behind the common cold). So, if you think you may have your first cavity, know that you’re not alone. What’s important is that you identify and address your cavity with a dentist as soon as possible. Cavities that are left untreated can lead to a whole host of dental problems that you’d probably rather avoid.
Let’s start with the symptoms of cavities. While most dentists will identify a cavity during a routine visit, you may be able to detect one in-between appointments if a tooth becomes highly sensitive or you experience sharp pain when chewing food. You may also notice bad breath (the result of bacteria in the cavity), dark spots or discoloration. Sensitivity to hot or cold liquids specifically can also be a warning sign. If you suspect any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
If your dentist confirms you have a cavity, it’s probably time for a filling. Fillings – and dental work in general – are often characterized as unpleasant, sweat-inducing experiences; however, that’s truly not the case with a standard cavity filling. Here’s how it works. Your dentist will numb the area near the filling so that you don’t feel any pain (by applying what’s known as local anesthesia). Fillings can sometimes be done with a needle, but you will only feel a pinch. You may still feel some pressure as your dentist cleans out your cavity, but this action shouldn’t be accompanied by any pain since your local anesthesia will have set in.
To fill a cavity, your dentist will clean out the opening of the cavity and fill in the hole with a material. The filling will restore the natural shape of your teeth and close off the opening. That material (the filler) can be made of gold or silver – or more commonly today, porcelain or composite, so as to match the natural color of your tooth. Most of these fillings will last between at least 5 to 15 years, though some may last even longer if they’re taken care of well.
In terms of time spent in the dentist’s office, a filling procedure shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes from start to finish! Your local anesthesia will wear off approximately one to three hours after your procedure, which means you’ll be back to your normal routine quickly.
Note that depending on the severity of your cavity, you may need a crown, which is a cap that’s placed over your entire tooth. The cap is a more comprehensive solution required when a cavity is fairly sizable. However, your dentist will be able to walk you through the solution that best fits your needs.
If you think you have a cavity or it’s time for another check-up, schedule an appointment with Allegiance Dental Associates, specializing in caring, comprehensive dentistry! Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!