Tooth decay is a common problem for dental patients of all ages. The condition occurs when acids dissolve areas of the tooth enamel, causing cavities or holes to form. The dissolution of the enamel occurs in the presence of acid, regardless of the acid's source.

Acid is released by oral microbes as a product of digestion. Additionally, acids contained in food and drinks can also cause decay.

There are many restorative dental treatments that can be used to treat tooth decay. Here are a few of them. 

Dental Fillings

Small areas of decay can typically be treated with dental fillings. The dentist removes the decayed area of the tooth and then fills the hole within the tooth with the filling material.

Dental fillings may be made of a wide variety of materials. They include the following:

  • Dental ceramic. Dental ceramic is a tooth-colored porcelain material that resembles natural tooth enamel.
  • Amalgam. Silver amalgam is made of a mixture of copper, silver, zinc, and tin.
  • Resin. Composite resin fillings are made of plastic.
  • Glass ionomer. Glass ionomer is made from bits of glass.

Once a dental filling has been installed to treat a small cavity, the spread of decay is stopped. In addition, the appearance of the tooth is restored. 

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are also used to treat dental decay. They are typically used when large areas of a  tooth are damaged by decay. The crowns are often paired with dental fillings during the treatment process. 

Crowns, like dental fillings, can be made of many different materials. They include:

  • Porcelain
  • Porcelain-over-metal
  • Resin
  • Stainless Steel
  • Silver
  • Gold

A dental crown surrounds the entire portion of the tooth that is exposed above the gum line. Usually, a tooth-colored crown is preferred for areas of the mouth that are easily seen when a person talks or smiles. Metal crowns are frequently used for back teeth and for pediatric restorations.

Root Canals

In some cases, dental decay can lead to a dental infection. A filling and crown may not be sufficient to treat the condition because the pulp and dental nerves of the tooth may be irreparably inflamed.

During a root canal, the pulp is removed, and the tooth is subsequently disinfected, filled and capped. The procedure is sometimes the only way to salvage a severely decayed tooth.

For more information about tooth decay and its treatment, schedule a consultation with a dentist like Jacob L. Revercomb DMD in your local area.