If you've ever had a cavity, you are most definitely not alone. Some 91% of American adults have had a cavity in their lives, making it an incredibly common dental problem. Filling a dental cavity is a standard function of general dentistry, but what about those cavities that are difficult to detect? Some cavities are impossible for you to see, and when it comes to interproximal cavities affecting your molars, your dentist may only spot them with a dental x-ray.
Between Your Molars
An interproximal cavity is one that develops between your teeth. These are slightly more complex to treat when compared to occlusal cavities (which form on the visible biting surfaces of teeth). The position of an interproximal cavity between molars can create a few issues in accessing the deterioration.
Detecting the Cavity
These types of cavities are often identified on a dental x-ray. Unless the cavity has been developing for an extended period of time (meaning that the deterioration has spread to a position where it can be observed during a visual inspection), its interproximal location means it can escape immediate detection.
While an interproximal cavity can be treated in the traditional manner, with the deteriorated portions of the tooth's structure removed and the cavity filled, this isn't always necessary in the cavity's early stages. How can a dentist treat this type of cavity other than with a filling?
The Level of Deterioration
The extremely narrow space between your molars means that an interproximal cavity will generally only be filled when it has breached your protective dental enamel and has begun to affect the dentin beneath it (which forms the bulk of the tooth's structure). When only the enamel is affected, your dentist will attempt to recalcify the area.
This recalcification is accomplished using a targeted fluoride treatment. This can be perfectly effective when the enamel has not yet completely eroded, and it is the preferred form of treatment for interproximal cavities in their early stages.
In your subsequent dental appointments, your dentist may order another x-ray to check the status of the interproximal cavity and to gauge the success of the recalcification. If it's suspected that the fluoride treatment was not as effective as intended, then your dentist will opt to fill the cavity. Due to the location of the cavity, the procedure will take a little longer than filling an occlusal cavity.
An interproximal cavity is slightly more complicated to treat than an occlusal cavity, but if it's caught early enough, then a filling may not be needed. Contact a dentist like Dr. Jon Douglas Lesan, DDS, RpH, PA to learn more.