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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Dental Caries: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Mouth and Teeth (Oral and Dental)

Dental Caries

Alternate Names : Cavities, Tooth Decay, Dental Decay

Dental Caries | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Simple fillings are used to treat small cavities. The dentist removes the softened or decayed material from the tooth. The hole left in the tooth is then filled with a restorative material. This is usually done with the help of local anesthetics, or "numbing" medicine, so that the person does not feel any pain during the procedure.

The dentist will recommend the best kind of filling material to use. Usually, a silver-mercury filling or a resin material is used. When the cavity is larger, gold restorations or crowns may be needed to reestablish form and function of the remaining tooth structure.

If the decay has already reached the nerves and blood vessels in the center of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary in addition to restoring the tooth. A root canal is a procedure to remove diseased pulp from the deep part of the tooth. The area is then cleaned and sealed with filling and a crown, or cap, over the top of the tooth. If the tooth has an abscess and a root canal treatment is not performed, the tooth will usually have to be removed. Antibiotics may be need to be given.

The earlier a cavity is found, the simpler and less expensive it is to treat.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Any surgery or dental procedure carries a risk of bleeding, infection, and reactions to pain medicine. A root canal may cause nerve damage, which may result in tingling or numbness in the area of the surgery. Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions, stomach upset, or other side effects. Other side effects depend on the specific drug used.

What happens after treatment for the disease?

In almost all cases, treatment is successful and a person may return to normal activities. Further monitoring is required to catch future cavities at an early stage and avoid complications.

How is the disease monitored?

People should report any symptoms of tooth pain or sensitivity. Regular dental check-ups, roughly every 6 months or more often in some cases, are advised for monitoring. X-rays of the teeth may also be used for monitoring.

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Dental Caries: Prevention & Expectations


Author: Marvin Goldfogel, DDS
Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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