Illustration of a cavity
We all know what causes cavities: Not brushing or brushing improperly, not flossing, and eating sweets. Sugar feeds the bacteria that destroy the teeth and gums. While these general rules hold true across different ages, I do see differences in the location of cavities as patients get older.
- Young adults tend to have lots of cavities, often because they have more pressing issues to deal with—e.g., school, job searches, etc.
- Middle-aged patients continue to have cavities; some also have problems with previous bridge work. Due to changes in gum tissue or loss of bone, artificial teeth may not fit well after 5 or 6 years. Food particles and bacteria can get under bridge work and cause decay.
- In an aging population, more cavities appear in the roots, as gum tissue and supporting bones recede.
Today, to fill cavities, we use composites—combinations of materials that come in many different shades. Using composites, I can match the color of your tooth so it appears perfectly natural.
- Diminishing the sensitivity of teeth: To reduce sensitivity, I can put fluoride on the tooth, which combines with calcium to plug up tubules, and acts as insulation. There’s other material that can prevent fluid from moving in the tubules, which is what causes sensations of heat or coldness.