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Cavities and Tooth Loss

By Stephen Rogers on June 07, 2016

An illustration of a tooth affected by a cavityCavities and tooth loss are both serious dental conditions that require immediate treatment to prevent further dental complications. If a patient does not seek treatment for a cavity, it can result in tooth loss. In turn, missing teeth can cause more widespread dental problems such as tooth and bite misalignment and jawbone deterioration. For these reasons, the dentists at Greater Long Island Dental recommend that patients undergo the appropriate restorative dentistry procedure to improve oral health. To learn more about the causes of cavities and how cavities cause tooth loss, read on, and then contact our Long Island, NY practice today.

What Causes Cavities?

In order to understand how cavities cause tooth loss, it is important to understand the causes of cavities and how they form. Cavities develop in response to tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when food particles are left on the teeth. The food particles combine with bacteria to form a sticky film called plaque. If plaque is left on the teeth for more than 24 hours, it forms a harder, more difficult to remove substance called tartar. As the bacteria in plaque and tartar feed on food particles, they emit acids that gradually damage the healthy hard and soft tissues of the mouth, including the teeth.

When tooth decay starts, it begins with a small cavity in the enamel, the protective, clear layer of the tooth. When it breaks through the enamel, bacteria begin to damage the dentin, the dense bone tissue that makes up the majority of the tooth. The decay will continue to spread, affecting a larger portion of the dentin and reaching farther into the tooth. Finally, the bacteria will reach the root canals of the teeth, where the soft, vulnerable nerve and tissues are housed.

How Do Cavities Cause Tooth Loss?

Cavities can cause tooth loss in two ways.

First, when left untreated, tooth decay can damage a large portion of the tooth. As the cavity grows in size, it will eventually affect the majority of the tooth. In this case, there is no longer enough healthy tooth structure to support a dental restoration such as a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown. If the patient does seek treatment at this point, we will extract the tooth and recommend a suitable tooth replacement option.

Second, a large cavity can leave the root canals of the teeth exposed the harmful bacteria. When the root canals become infected, the bacteria can move down to the roots of the tooth, damaging the tooth structure that is below the gum line. Eventually, there may not be enough healthy root structure, and the tooth will require extraction.

In either of these cases, we recommend that patients undergo treatment for tooth loss as soon as possible. We can recommend a dental implant-supported crown, bridge or denture; or a traditional bridge or denture to fill in the space left by the missing tooth and prevent further dental complications.

To undergo treatment for a cavity or tooth loss, contact Greater Long Island Dental today.

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