A cavity is caused by tooth decay or the de-mineralization of tooth structure due to colonized bacteria. Basically it is softened tooth structure that has become a hole or cavity. It usually happens in locations of the tooth where self cleansing takes place with difficulty or not at all, i.e. the grooves on the top eating surface, contact points between the teeth and along the gumline.A cavity is caused by tooth decay or the de-mineralization of tooth structure due to colonized bacteria. Basically it is softened tooth structure that has become a hole or cavity. It usually happens in locations of the tooth where self cleansing takes place with difficulty or not at all, i.e. the grooves on the top eating surface, contact points between the teeth and along the gumline.
Once this pitting takes place, what was once decalcification becomes a cavity and a filling is required to repair it. If not addressed this process slowly continues (the bacteria causes decay deeper and deeper into the tooth) until it invades the pulp or core of the tooth where the nerve, blood supply and lymphatic tissues are contained. Once this tissue becomes infected with bacteria the tooth is commonly considered “dead” because it is no longer vital. The only treatment available to save a tooth in this condition is to do a root canal which removes the infected tissue.
There has been a lot of research into possible techniques and homecare products to reverse decay or prevent plaque formation. Basically there is little that is available to help that is practical and predictable. The best and tried and true remains regular cleanings and more important even than that is proper home care. This includes proper brushing technique and flossing. Flossing once a day is enough and yes, it really is important.
A subtle and little known example of the healing capacity of the body is the saliva in your mouth. It contains immune cells, minerals, and has a buffering capacity. Since there are minerals in your saliva, your teeth have the ability to re-mineralize or patch areas that have previously de-mineralized by bacteria. I have actually seen small cavities re-mineralize and heal, removing the need for a filling. This is not the norm but it shows that the body is constantly striving to maintain health even in the presence of stress, imbalance and decay.
Carey O’Rielly DDS has been a practicing dentist for 35 years. He went to USC Dental School and Duke University for his undergraduate degree. He grew up in Laguna Beach and now lives in La Costa with his wife Victoria, who runs his office.
He began his career by owning and operating a network of six offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presently he owns a private holistic practice in North County San Diego’s Encinitas.
Dr. O started looking for solutions to his health challenges that resulted from the stress and environmental toxicity that built up over a ten year period running his dental network. He has dedicated himself to learning about oral systemic problems and how dentistry can affect your health. He has applied what he has learned over the last twenty years to ensure he, his staff and his patients are protected from the chemicals and toxic materials found in most dental offices. He has produced an environmentally friendly office that is also peaceful and calm.
He is an expert on dental materials having looked at hundreds of biocompatibility lab tests over the years. He has identified the most bio-friendly materials to use in his practice and which dental materials can be used to replace metal fillings and crowns, including BPA free and fluoride free ‘white’ fillings. He also uses metal-free Zirconia or ceramic implants and PRF (platelet-rich fibrin) grafting materials which come from the patient’s own blood.
Dr. O’Rielly teaches C.E. courses on the systemic effects of gum disease. He is an expert in using phase contrast microscopy for analyzing dental infections, where he shows patients what kind of microbes, i.e. bacteria, amoeba, and yeasts like candida are populating the mouth and affecting the body as a whole.
He has an educational blog and is writing a book on dental health called ‘Hidden Dental Infections: Healing Root Canals and Infected Teeth with the Erbium Laser’ where he discusses dental nutrition, toxic dental materials and the effects of old root canals on inflammation and overall health.