At Chapel Hill Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer complete care for children as well as adults. Our main concern is preventing tooth decay. We also offer a wide range of services to manage and treat tooth decay including dental fillings, crowns, and root canals.
Dr. James Furgurson is a family dentist in Chapel Hill, NC that is dedicated to the health of his patients. If you notice any differences in the health of your teeth and gums, contact our office and we will help you get the care you need. Learn about the causes, signs, and treatments for dental cavities below.
What Causes Tooth Cavities?
Plaque is a sticky substance that forms inside the mouth, accumulating along the gum line and between the teeth. Bacteria in plaque become activated by sugar and starch in the food we eat, which in turn produces an acid that can erode tooth enamel and lead to the formation of cavities.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is to brush and floss daily, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit sodas and candy. Scheduling routine appointments in our office for biannual dental cleanings will also ensure that your teeth and gums are deeply cleaned.
Common Signs of Cavities
Our team is able to identify early signs of tooth decay before most patients experience any physical symptoms, so it is important to maintain regular dental check-ups. Common signs of tooth decay include:
- White spots on teeth
- Spontaneous tooth pain
- Dark or dull teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Visible holes in teeth
Tooth Cavity Treatment
Dr. Furgurson can prevent tooth cavities with professional cleaning, fluoride treatments, and dental sealants, which are plastic coverings that protect teeth. If you already have signs of tooth decay, he may recommend the following treatments:
- Composite Dental Fillings: Composite dental fillings are placed in a single visit, used to treat minor tooth cavities. They seal out infection and blend in with natural teeth.
- Porcelain or Gold Fillings: If the tooth decay is more extensive, Dr. Furgurson may use an indirect restoration such as a metal or ceramic filling to protect the tooth. Because metal fillings are durable, they are often used on teeth in the back of the mouth for teeth that take the brunt of chewing forces.
- Root Canal: When tooth decay progresses close to the nerve of the tooth, it can cause extreme pain. A root canal procedure will eliminate the infection from inside the tooth. During the procedure, we remove the infected pulp from within the canal and clean the tooth. Dr. Furgurson can then restore the tooth following the procedure by using a dental crown to prevent future problems.
Tooth Cavity FAQs
Can a tooth with a cavity heal itself?
Cavities cannot heal themselves naturally. Patients should schedule an appointment with their dentist as soon as they notice a cavity or tooth pain. The sooner you have your cavities filled the sooner you will not be in pain, and no more damage to your teeth can occur.
Do cavities spread from tooth to tooth?
Cavities do not spread from tooth to tooth, however it is not uncommon for patients to have neighboring cavities. Cavities are caused by plaque and bacteria making its way into the tooth causing decay. If you have excess plaque in one specified area of your mouth, it is not unlikely that you will have cavities next to each other.
How long does it take for a cavity to destroy a tooth?
Cavities slowly attack the tooth overtime. It may take months or even years for a tooth to reach the point of destruction. As soon as you think you may have a cavity, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it filled so that pain and damage cannot progress.
Schedule a Dental Exam Today
Do you have frequent toothaches? Maybe you’re noticing that your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. Request an appointment with Dr. Furgurson online. You can call Chapel Hill Cosmetic and Family Dentistry at 919.205.9308 if you are a new patient and 919.251.9313 if you are a returning patient. Our goal is for our patients to maintain healthy and balanced smiles.