- The outer most covering of the tooth is called Enamel. When caries begins in a tooth it is seen as a black discoloration. Patient will not experience any pain or sensitivity at this level. As days pass by with no dental attention to the discoloration, the discoloration turns into a cavity with food lodgment. As long as the lesion is restricted to enamel one does not feel pain. The carious lesion keeps expanding to reach the dentin. When the cavity reaches the dentin the next layer of the tooth, a person can feel sensitivity. The tooth may become sensitive to temperature and sweet and sour flavours of food as they are conducted to the pulp through dentinal tubules.
- When caries is restricted to enamel and dentin only, it can be excavated and a dental filling done.
- Dental fillings are of various types ranging from amalgam to various cements to composite.
- The type of filling required depends on its size, depth, location and cost. Also many a times some layering of different materials needs to be done when the cavity is very close to the pulp in order to restrict the insult to the pulp. On doing so the tooth may start doing well with a dental filling.
- If the tooth is not attended to early, pulp the inner most layer of the tooth gets affected. Some patients experience tremendous pain and swelling of the area spontaneously. At this point of time, the only way the tooth can be saved is by doing a procedure called root canal treatment. In this procedure all the pulp from the tooth crown and root are removed and an inert material filled in them and later the tooth is capped. However is it not necessary that every person who needs a root canal treatment should have severe pain and swelling of the tooth area. If the decay has been over a very long time the tooth would develop some kind of physiological response to avoid irritation to the pulp (like formation of pulp stones) when the pain may be of moderate or low intensity. However even in such cases root canal treatment is the only option.
- Only if a tooth is filled early it can be prevented from getting into the procedure of root canal treatment.