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How do dentists prevent tooth decay and perform dental cavity fillings

a photo showing the morphology of the molars

Did you know that there is some evidence which suggests that dental caries first appeared to ravage the human civilisation around 15000 years ago?

If this evidence is considered, we can safely say that dental decay is one of the oldest and the most common diseases found in human beings. It is estimated that, at present, more than 50% of the world’s population suffers from dental cavities.

This growth in the incidence of dental cavities can be attributed to high sugar-containing diets. Fast food culture, soda pops and an increase in highly processed foods are damaging the teeth and are one of the most important factors for the development of dental cavities.

In addition, poor oral hygiene practices also affect the occurrence of caries. Some studies even say that almost every adult is bound to experience at least one dental cavity in their lifetime.

Since this dental disease is so widespread, it becomes all the more important to be aware of this entity and do our best to prevent tooth decay occurrence.

This article will focus on the prevention of dental cavities and give you an insight into how dentists treat dental decay and perform dental cavity fillings.


How does tooth decay happen?

Our teeth are composed of three layers, namely, enamel, dentine and pulp.

The enamel is the outer, protective and highly mineralised layer of the teeth. It protects the core of the tooth against the perils of the oral environment and resists bacterial attacks. The enamel coats the crown.

Similarly, cementum coats the roots and cannot be seen as the roots of the teeth lie embedded in the jawbone.

The second layer is the dentine which is a little less mineralised than enamel. It has small channels called dentinal tubules that connect with the core of the tooth, the pulp.

The pulp houses nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue and is responsible for keeping the tooth alive. Any pressure, stimulus and invasion of the pulp lead to pain.


Now that we know the basic anatomy of the tooth. Let’s discuss how dental cavities happen.

Our mouth is a host of millions of bacteria, and while most of them are harmless, some can be disease-causing under the right conditions.

Poor oral hygiene and a diet rich in simple carbohydrates predispose you to dental cavities. The bacteria that are present in the mouth utilise the sugars from the food you eat and release toxic and acidic by-products in the mouth.

These acidic products corrode the enamel and cause it to break down. Once the enamel is breached, dentine is exposed. This is what leads to sensitivity as the external environment comes in contact with the protected internal environment.

Soon, the bacteria will march forward and enter the pulp infecting it and leading to excruciating pain.

At this point, root canal treatment becomes mandatory.

Our goal is to ensure early detection of dental decay to prevent tooth decay progression and eliminate the need for root canals and eventual extraction.

However, the best treatment for dental cavities still and will always remain prevention. Read ahead to learn about the best tips for dental cavity prevention.


Tips to prevent tooth decay

It is often said prevention is better than cure, and rightfully so! If you or anyone has ever suffered from a toothache, you would probably know how excruciating and unbearable it can get. So, if you wish to prevent such an incidence in the future, follow our top tips to ensure your pearly whites remain in top shape.


  • Maintain good oral hygiene

This is no news, but still, many people fail to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, once in the morning and once before you sleep.

It is also important to floss as a toothbrush cannot clean the areas between teeth, and these locations are more susceptible to food entrapment and dental decay.

Develop a habit of rinsing your mouth after you eat something. This will help dislodge any accumulated food particles and ensure a clean mouth.

Lastly, do not forget to clean your tongue. The tongue is known to entrap bacteria and food debris, and many fail to clean their tongue.


  • Alter your diet

Reduce the amount of processed food and sugars you consume. Minimise consumption of sodas and carbonated drinks, as these corrode the tooth structure and are often high in sugars.

Include fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables for optimum fibre intake. Fibrous foods help you clean your mouth natural due to their texture. Consume a good amount of protein to ensure good overall health. Drink an adequate amount of water to ensure you do not get dry mouth.


  • Schedule regular dental check-ups

It is recommended you visit your dentist at least once every six months for a general check-up and cleaning. These appointments allow us to look into your mouth and spot early signs of disease, if any. This enables you to stay at the top of your oral health and helps prevent any dental diseases.


How can a dentist help you prevent tooth decay?

Have you heard of fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil and water. It is known to strengthen the enamel and makes it more resistant to dental decay. Fluoride can be taken systematically or topically. In most countries, fluoride is added to drinking water for this very purpose.

However, some people may require extra help, and this is where dentists come into the picture.

Topical fluoride treatments in the form of varnishes and gels help prevent dental cavities in children as well as adults. These treatments are completely safe and offer excellent results.

Fluoride treatments are also known to reverse early signs of dental decay. Dental decay begins as a chalky white patch on the tooth. When caught at this stage, fluoride treatment helps remineralise the tooth and prevents progression.

This is also why regular dental check-ups are important.


How are dental cavities treated?

Just a quick reminder: ” Prevention is better than cure “

So, before reading about the treatment, make sure you’ve taken note of all the tips to prevent tooth decay formation.

Dental fillings

The most common treatment for dental cavities is dental filling.

The decayed part is removed with the help of dental drills. You may or may not require local anaesthesia, depending on the extent of the cavity.

Dental composites come in various tooth coloured shades. Upon careful examination, the dentist will choose a shade that matches your natural tooth and restore the cavity in layers. Each layer is exposed to a blue light which helps harden the material and enables it to bond with the tooth. Once filled, the filling is carved and polished to imitate natural tooth anatomy.

Dental composite fillings provide excellent strength and restore essential functions such as chewing and speech. It seals the tooth and prevents progression, thus eliminating the need for invasive procedures.

Moreover, composite resins are highly conservative and do not mandate the removal of healthy tooth structures as amalgam does. In this way, more of your tooth structure is saved, which further contributes to the lifespan of the tooth.


Inlay and Onlay

Inlays and Onlays are indirect dental restorations as they are made outside the mouth. If your cavity is large and cannot be adequately restored with a dental filling, inlays and onlays are recommended.

The decayed part of the tooth is first removed with the help of dental drills. Once clean, an impression is taken, which serves as a guide for your inlays and onlays. These are then made in the laboratory and, at a later appointment, fitted to the intended teeth with the help of dental bonding agents.

Inlays and onlays serve as a more conservative approach, and minimal tooth preparation is needed, unlike dental crowns that require extensive tooth preparation, which leads to loss of healthy tooth structure is the process.

Inlays and onlays can be made from ceramic, zirconia or composite.


Root canal therapy and crown in short

The above-mentioned procedures can be used to treat cavities that are restricted to the enamel or dentine.

However, once the decay has involved the pulp, root canal therapy becomes non-negotiable.

The dentist will first drill the crown of the tooth and create an entry point to the roots of the tooth. Next, specialised root canal instruments are used to clear out the infected pulp and debris. The canals are prepared and restored with the help of root canal filling material. The top of the tooth is sealed with the help of dental filling. Sometimes, a dental crown may be given where the loss of tooth structure is large to help restore the shape, size, strength and function of the tooth.


In some situations, dental decay may be too extensive, and the tooth is beyond saving. In such a situation, immediate removal is advised, as an untreated decayed tooth can trigger further abscess and space infections.

The missing tooth or teeth can be later replaced with the help of dental implants or removal prostheses;

Find more informations  on various dental prostheses types and which you should consider for yourself.


Dental cavities are one of the most common diseases in human beings. The high sugar-containing diet and poor oral hygiene practices are important factors contributing to this dental disease. Dentists prevent tooth decay by advocating good oral hygiene, altering diets and suggesting regular dental check-ups. Fluoride treatments in the form of varnishes and gels help prevent dental cavities in children and adults and even reverse early signs of dental decay.

Prevention remains the best treatment for dental cavities.

*Special thanks to our artist Dumitru Leahu who shares the same passion as us. Feel free to appreciate his work @truedentalstories

We hope this article provided you with the needed insights how to prevent tooth cavities formation. If you have not yet received an answer to your questions, do not hesitate to ask us any question in the section below, we will answer as soon as possible. If you find this article useful, we invite you to leave us a comment in the comments section.

An ilustration of a signature of Dr. TALPA, author of the site and the blog posts writer. The purpose of this illustration is to authenticate the content of this blog post; the reader can be sure that the information is well researched and is written by a doctor


Tags :
Conservative Dentistry,Preventive Dentistry,Restaurative Dentistry
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Dr. Viorel TALPA

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