How are cavities treated?

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are treated by drilling out the decayed area of the tooth and filling the area with silver alloy (amalgam), gold, porcelain, or composite resin. If the cavity is large or if the tooth is already weakened by a large filling, a crown (cap), usually made of gold or porcelain, may be needed to keep the tooth from breaking. If the tooth decay has reached the center of the tooth and damaged the nerve, you'll need a  root canal procedure to remove the nerve. To keep you from feeling pain while your cavity is being treated, your dentist will numb the area with a medication called lidocaine; some dentists offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) instead. Your dentist or dental hygienist can spot signs of oral cancer during a regular dental exam. Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment.

Cavities are treated by a dentist. After an exam and x-rays, your dentist will discuss with you treatment options for treating your cavity. Most of the time, cavities can be treated with fillings. Larger cavities may be treated with root canals and crowns. Sometimes the cavity damages the structural integrity of the tooth and the tooth must be extracted. If you suspect a cavity, you should see your dentist. 

A common method of treating cavities is with fillings. The hole from the cavity is filled to ensure additional decay does not cause more cavities. Extractions can also be necessary in some cases. See your dentist, who will treat your cavities. S/he will determine the best course of treatment based on your individual health needs after a screening and possibly x-rays.

Of course, the best treatment is not having to treat cavities by preventing them altogether. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and see your dentist regularly.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.