Do All Cavities Need Fillings?

Whether you are an adult or a child, one thing you probably don’t want to hear at the dentist’s office is that you have a cavity. For kids, a cavity filling means a potentially uncomfortable return to trip to the dentist. Even with modern methods, there are sometimes pains associated with getting fillings and stress regarding the procedure. And for adults, on top of the procedure you also have to worry about paying for it. So one thing you might hope is that maybe, you don’t need to have the cavity filled. In this article we will discuss why cavities are filled and a few reasons they might not be filled. 

Why Do Dentists Need To Fill Cavities?

A cavity is a type of damage to a tooth cased by bacteria and decay. Simply put, when bacteria in our mouths from food and beverages mixes with sugars from what we eat it can lead to the process of destroying our teeth. At first the enamel starts to get broken down. After that, the decay begins destroying the dentin, pulp, and eventually spreads into the roots. 

If the decay is not addressed this can lead to tooth loss and severe tooth aches. What is worse is that decay can spread from tooth to tooth. If you have decay on one tooth that isn’t getting fixed that decay can move to the nearby teeth. 

A filling is the process of removing the decayed section of the tooth, and then using an artificial material to fill in the hole or indent left by the missing portion of the tooth. Fillings can save teeth and prevent further decay. 

Do Baby Teeth With Cavities Need Fillings?

One of the instances where a filling might not be recommended is a on a very loose tooth. But be warned, this is only true if the the tooth is definitely going to come out soon. A common misconception from parents is that baby teeth never need to be filled because they are temporary teeth. If the tooth isn’t going to be shed for months or years, a filling can protect the surrounding the teeth and prevent the decay from affecting permanent teeth that erupt and surround the decaying tooth. 

If a baby tooth is truly loose and is expected to fall out soon and there are no signs of decay on nearby teeth, your dentist might recommend just waiting for the tooth to fall out and making sure your kid brushes and flosses and potentially uses special fluoride toothpaste. 

Do Wisdom Teeth Need Fillings?

On the reverse end of the aging and teeth spectrum, many teens wonder if it is worth fixing wisdom teeth if they plan to have them surgically removed. Wisdom teeth or “third molars” are the final teeth to arrive in the mouth usually around the age of 18. Because of our smaller mouths compared to our ancestors, many of us cannot fit the extra four teeth without complications. If a wisdom is going to be surgically removed it won’t need to be filled. But if the tooth isn’t going to be removed or your dentist isn’t recommended wisdom tooth surgery in the near future, a filling can prevent damage to that tooth and the second molars. 

Are Cavities Reversible?

You may have heard before that a cavity is reversible. This often comes down to how we define a cavity. When dentists say “cavity” some times they are referring to any sign of decay on the surface of a tooth, while other dentists are referring to specifically decay that has past the enamel. If decay isn’t affecting the dentin or tooth pulp, a filling might not  be immediately necessary. Your dentist might recommend that the tooth is monitored, and might recommend a variety of extra steps you can do to stop the destruction of that tooth. For example, fluoride toothpaste, dental sealants and other techniques might provide the extra protection you need. 

Contact Us For Dental Services in Lewiston

If you live in the Lewiston Maine area and need to see a dentist, please give us a call. We can discuss exams, cleanings, x-rays and a variety of dental issues including emergencies and restorative dentistry. 

Learn More About Dentistry: