During a regular dental visit, your dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth checking your teeth and gums for dental risks and issues like tooth decay. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) National Center for Health Statistics, 91 percent of adults have experienced tooth decay.1 If your dentist uncovers any decay, he or she will bring those concerns to your attention during your appointment. Some dental issues may require you to schedule another appointment to fully treat the decay and reduce the chance for more serious dental problems in the future.
Three common dental procedures your dentist might recommend if they uncover dental decay include: fillings, crowns and root canals. Read below to learn more about these procedures and what to expect.
A filling is a procedure that helps to restore a decayed tooth back to its normal function and shape. A dentist will remove all of the decay from the affected tooth, thoroughly clean the area and then fill the empty space or cavity with a filling material.
The most common types of fillings are amalgam (silver) and composite (tooth colored) fillings. Our blog post, “Fillings 101 – Everything You Need to Know” discusses the types of fillings, cost and how to obtain a pre-estimate prior to your dental treatment.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over a tooth to help restore its shape and size, as well as improve the tooth’s appearance and strength. Your dentist may recommend placing a crown if you have a large cavity, a cracked or weakened tooth or need root canal treatment.
Crowns fully cover the part of the tooth that is above the gum line. Crowns can be made from stainless steel or gold metals, or resin or ceramic materials.
If a tooth has extensive decay and becomes inflamed or infected, a root canal may be performed first before placing a crown on the tooth. During a root canal, a dentist or dental specialist called an endodontist removes the infected portion of the tooth, cleans the tooth and seals it with a crown. Without this treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth may become infected and abscesses may form.
When people need a filling, crown or root canal, they may be concerned with pain or feel anxious about the dental work. Fillings, crowns and root canals are performed to eliminate pain and discomfort rather than cause it. If you are fearful of these procedures, let your dentist know he or she can work with you to reduce any anxiety.
Postponing treatment of tooth decay or infected teeth can lead to more serious dental issues down the road. Following good oral health routine practices, like brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and regularly visiting your dentist may help prevent the need for a filling, crown or root canal in the future.
1 “Dental Caries and Tooth Loss in Adults in the United States, 2011–2012” CDC National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db197.htm. Published May 2015. Accessed April 2018.
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