Tooth decay can't be reversed once it occurs, but there are ways to treat the issue by replacing the decayed part of the tooth with an artificial substance. If you have tooth decay, your dentist might recommend any of these four methods of treatment depending on the extent of the decay.
Minor tooth decay that's found only in the crusty top of the tooth can be treated with a filling and a crown. This is the least involved and most affordable form of treatment, so it's preferable so long as it's adequate.
When treating decay that's only in the hard surface of the tooth, your dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed portion of the tooth. They'll then fill in the drilled-out area with a resin or other hard substance, which is known as a filling.
2. Filling and Crown
If the tooth decay is more substantial but still only resides in the hard surface fo the tooth, your dentist might use a combination of a filling and a crown.
With this treatment, the decayed area is drilled out and refilled with a resin just as is done with a basic filling. Because there's more area that's decayed and refilled, however, the dentist will cap off the tooth with a crown. The crown covers the top surface of the tooth, holding it together and providing a surface to chew against.
3. Root Canal, Filling and Crown
When tooth decay reaches down into the soft interior of the tooth, treatment becomes more involved. Not only does your dentist need to drill out the decayed hard portion of the tooth, but they also must remove the decayed soft tissue that lies within the tooth. This soft tissue is known as the root of the tooth.
This treatment is commonly called a root canal because that's the deepest portion of the tooth that's removed. A root canal also involves a filling and a crown, though, because there is substantial decay on the hard portion of a tooth by the time the decay reaches the soft interior.
4. Dental Implant
If decay in a tooth is so substantial that the tooth can't be saved, the entire tooth must be replaced. One of the more common ways to do this is with a dental implant. An implant is an artificial tooth that's secured with a screw which your dentist drills into your jawbone. The artificial tooth will last a long time and can be made to look entirely natural.
To learn more about dental fillings, crowns or implants, contact a dentist.