Cavities — or tooth decay — cause damage to the hard tissues of teeth (enamel). The damage is caused by acids found in plaque. Cavities are one of the most common health problems worldwide and affect all age groups.
The damage caused by plaque can take the form of pits or holes in the tooth. If these are not treated, they can lead to toothache, infection, and tooth loss. A dental professional will usually place a filling into the hole to stop the damage and maintain dental health, but some people may try to treat a cavity on their own.
What is having a cavity like?
Cavities form over a period of time. There are a few stages to dental decay:
- Spots appear on the surface of the tooth.
- The decay invades the tooth enamel.
- After decay breaks through the enamel, the tooth structure breaks down more quickly via the softer layers.
- If the cavity is not filled, more serious problems can occur deeper in the tooth
As the breakdown or decay continues, eventually, the associated gums and nerves become irritated and painful.
Signs that you may have a cavity include:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Pain when eating or drinking things that are hot, cold, or sweet
- Pain when biting down
- Discolored teeth
- Holes or pits in teeth
Dentists treat the cavities/holes with fillings. Also called restorations, they are the best option for advanced decay. Fillings are made of several materials, including a porcelain or dental amalgam or tooth-colored resins.
Can I fill my own cavity?
Do-it-yourself dentistry has become very popular. Access limitations or problems with finances may lead people to try fixing dental problems at home. However, this is dangerous because the long-term oral effects of quick fixes are not known.
On the market these days, there are several at-home tooth repair kits. They are used to repair lost fillings or fill a tooth from scratch. These were made as temporary fixes to teeth when the dental office is closed or when there will be no dental access for a while.
One of the problems with at-home kits is some use the kits as a permanent solution. Not going to see a dentist and not properly stopping tooth decay, though, can lead to infection, pain, and gum disease.
Can I create my own tooth filling?
Many online sources show how to mix and fill a cavity with an at-home solution. Once again, this is not recommended because improper fillings and incomplete stoppage of tooth decay can lead to long-term problems.
Here, though, are some steps for creating your own tooth filling as a temporary solution while you seek professional dental care:
- Compile tools that are needed for the filling, including a mirror, tweezers, and mixing tools.
- Gather clove oil and zinc oxide powder.
- Lay all materials out on a cloth for easy reach, including cotton balls and tissue.
- Keep the cavity area dry.
- Remove the soft decay in the tooth.
- Mix the zinc oxide/clove oil into cement.
- Push the cement into the cavity.
- Remove access from around the tooth.
Afterward, do not eat for an hour so the filling can get hard. If the tooth hurts more after the filling is put in, an abscess may have formed, and the tooth and filling should be removed.
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How do I avoid cavities and the need for fillings?
The following steps can help to prevent cavities and maintain optimal oral health.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
- Use fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash.
- Floss daily and brush thoroughly.
- Make sure your dentist knows about medications you are taking or medical conditions that can affect your teeth.
- Be aware of other factors that can affect tooth enamel, like tobacco use and alcohol.
If you are having sensitivity or pain in your teeth, you should try to be seen by a dentist as soon as you can. Early detection of dental problems can help you to avoid oral diseases in the future.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Covington Center for Family Dentistry: “The Dangers of DIY Dentistry.”
Federal Practitioner: "Tooth Decay Is the Most Prevalent Disease."
Hesperian Health Guide: “How To Fill a Cavity.”
Mayo Clinic: “Cavities/tooth Decay.”
University of Chicago Illinois School of Dentistry: "5 Amazingly Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Cavities."
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