If your dentist discovers that you have a small cavity, you may be caught by surprise. Small cavities typically don’t come with symptoms or give you any indication that you have them. The absence of pain may leave you wondering, “Do small cavities need to be filled?”
While it’s always essential to promptly treat cavities of all sizes, tooth fillings may not always be the best option. There are a variety of treatments your dentist may recommend depending on where your cavity is located and its size.
Common Types of Cavities
- Root Cavities – These are commonly found in older adults with receding gums. If you have a root cavity, you will definitely know it. When tooth roots are exposed from recession and decay forms you will feel pain, sensitivity, or discomfort.
- Pit and Fissure Cavities – These types of cavities occur on chewing surfaces and are commonly found on back teeth (molars). When you are inconsistent with proper tooth brushing habits, food particles and plaque will stick to the indentations and grooves on top of these teeth and cause tooth decay.
- Smooth Surface Cavities – These types of cavities form on the outside flat surfaces of teeth when food particles aren’t removed properly with regular dental flossing. A smooth surface cavity will progress slowly and can be very treatable if caught early.
Small Cavity Treatment Options
When you see your dentist for regular teeth cleanings and exams, small cavities can be easily identified and treated properly. Treatment of cavities depends on their severity, but dentists typically recommend the following treatments for small cavities:
- Fluoride Treatments – If caught early, small cavities can be repaired with a variety of fluoride treatments. Prescription fluoride toothpaste, brush-on gel, trays, or mouth rinses may be recommended to rebuild tooth enamel and repair teeth. These options contain highly-concentrated fluoride, calcium, and phosphates to keep decay from reaching the dentin.
- Preventive Resin Treatments (Sealants) – If your dentist notices a tiny cavity on a molar, a preventative resin treatment or dental sealant may be recommended. A tooth-colored plastic coating will be applied to the chewing surface of the tooth to prevent decay. This material quickly bonds to indentations and grooves to form a protective shield over the enamel.
- Tooth-Colored Fillings – Don’t be surprised if your dentist recommends a simple tooth-colored filling to treat your small cavity. Even small cavities can reach dentin, and when they do, fluoride won’t do the trick. Tooth-colored fillings are virtually invisible and may also be used in tandem with a dental sealant to provide extra cavity protection.
Cavity-Specific Treatment Options
- Root Cavity Treatment – If a cavity is located on the surface of your tooth root, treatment will require a tooth filling or same-day dental crown — even if the cavity is small. But, if decay reaches the tooth’s pulp, your dentist will recommend root canal treatment. Root decay can spread very quickly, so it’s important to treat root cavities as soon as possible.
- Pit and Fissure Cavity Treatment – If your dentist catches a small pit and fissure cavity early, a prescription fluoride toothpaste may be the only treatment recommended. But, if your small cavity reaches your tooth’s dentin, your dentist will recommend a tooth filling or composite. If the decay progresses further, it may require a dental crown.
- Smooth Surface Cavity Treatment – These are typically the easiest cavities to treat. If caught early, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments in the form of gels, varnishes, or toothpaste to help strengthen your tooth and ward off more decay. But, if your cavity progresses through the tooth enamel, a tooth filling will be recommended.
Small Cavity Prevention
Small cavities can easily be prevented and not all of them will progress if you take proper precautions. You can keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free by following these simple tips:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Properly floss between your teeth once a day (preferably before bed)
- Limit snacking
- Eat healthy, balanced meals
- Use supplemental fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth
- Ask your dentist about preventive resin or sealants to help ward off tooth decay
- See your dentist at least twice a year for teeth cleanings and exams
Remember: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and you SHOULD NOT use this information to determine anything yourself. If you think you may have a small cavity, contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Small Cavity Treatment & Tooth Fillings in Columbus Ohio
Left untreated, even small cavities can lead to tooth infections, abscesses, or tooth loss. If you have a small cavity or it has been a while since you’ve had a dental exam, contact our skilled dentists at Capstone Dental in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus Ohio. We use only the most advanced dental technology to diagnose and treat small cavities and offer only the best treatment options. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!