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Saving decayed teeth
What is a cavity?
Improper brushing habits results in accumulation of plaque on the surface of the teeth. Plaque, if not removed promptly, will result in decay of the tooth material. Initially, the enamel (outer layer) of tooth material is affected, and then the dentine (inner layer) is affected. Then the tooth may become painful and sensitive to cold food.

What happens if a cavity is not filled promptly?
Dental decay progresses through the enamel and then the dentine to reach the pulp of the tooth. Inside each tooth is the pulp which provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth; it runs like a thread down through the root. When the pulp is affected, the tooth becomes painful, and is likely to get infected.

How is a filling done?
The dentist will have to remove the decayed enamel and dentine (part of the tooth) to prepare the cavity for restoration. Then the actual filling is done with an appropriate filling material. If the cavity is deep or close to the pulp of the tooth, a temporary filling material may be used for a few days to allow the pulp to recover before the final filling is done.

What are the common materials used for fillings?
There are different materials used for filling cavities, depending on the location of the tooth in the mouth and the location and severity of the decay in the tooth. Newer filling materials like light-cured, tooth-coloured composites can be used to match the colour and shape of the tooth to make the filling virtually undetectable.

What is Root Canal Treatment?
Inside each tooth is the pulp which provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth; it runs like a thread down through the root. When the pulp is diseased (though a deep cavity) or injured (by breaking of the tooth), the pulp tissue dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a deep cavity or cracked tooth. Both of these problems can let germs (bacteria) enter the pulp and cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip, in the jawbone, forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess. An abscess can be extremely painful, and cause damage to the bone around the teeth By Root Canal Treatment (RCT), the endodontist removes the diseased or dead pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Most of the time, RCT is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. However, the tooth is still brittle and prone to fracture. Therefore, your prosthodontist then places a crown over the tooth to make it stronger.

How long will the restored tooth last?
Your restored tooth could last a lifetime, if you continue to care for your teeth and gums. However, regular checkups are necessary. As long as the root(s) of a treated tooth are nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth will remain healthy.