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Tooth Decay - Treatment Overview

Treatment for tooth decay varies according to how severe the decay is.

  • Brushing and flossing with fluoride toothpaste and/or receiving fluoride treatments may be enough to reverse early decay, before cavities have formed. For more information, see:
    Dental Care: Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth.
  • You need a filling if a cavity has formed. A filling is a material that plugs the cavity hole and restores a tooth to its original shape after your dentist has removed the decay.
  • You may need a crown if the decay is severe and your tooth is badly damaged. A crown (often called a cap) is a man-made replacement for all or part of a tooth. Crowns are also used to treat teeth that have broken or decayed so much that a filling will not work.
  • You may need a root canal treatment if the pulp of your tooth is infected. A root canal removes the diseased pulp of a tooth.
  • You may need your tooth taken out (extraction) if the root of the tooth is severely damaged. You may need to replace the tooth with a bridge or an implant.

If you do not treat tooth decay, your cavities can get worse and you may lose a tooth. If you wait to see your dentist, your tooth repair will probably cost more and take longer.

What to think about

Many people are very nervous before or during a dental visit. This can make going to the dentist a difficult experience. You can take steps to limit your anxiety, such as explaining your fears to the dentist and setting up a system of hand signals. Hand signals let you tell the dentist when something hurts or you want a break, even if you cannot talk.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 19, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
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You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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