5 Reasons to get a cavity in front tooth and ways to fix it?

cavity in front tooth

A Cavity in front tooth is unusual because of its smooth and self-cleaning surfaces. However, certain conditions make an individual susceptible to one or more cavities in the front teeth. 

In this article, we will highlight the factors responsible for developing a front tooth cavity and ways to manage it.   

Cavity or tooth decay is an infection of the tooth where the chemical dissolution of the tooth surface occurs as a result of metabolic events taking place in the plaque covering the tooth. The disease usually starts by breaching the hard calcified outer enamel and progresses through the dentin (second layer of the tooth) into the innermost pulp. 

Can you get a cavity in your front tooth?

A cavity in front tooth often doesn’t develop alone because of its smooth surface and the absence of surface irregularities. Any food particles or debris on the front teeth are rapidly washed and cleansed by saliva. However, you can get a cavity in front tooth if you have the following conditions:

  • Conditions that decrease salivary flow, such as radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, make front teeth susceptible to cavities and facilitate cavity formation.
  • Crowded teeth that overlap allow plaque build-up that is difficult to clean with a regular toothbrushing and require additional oral hygiene measures to keep cavities in check. 
  • Developmental defects in the enamel make teeth more susceptible to acid attack due to faulty enamel formation. The defective enamel provides an ideal environment for plaque attachment and colonization by bacteria, enabling tooth decay to progress rapidly.
  • Fixed orthodontic treatment (braces) prones you to the development of white demineralization spots on the front teeth. Braces bonded on the teeth make it harder to clean the teeth, especially around the brackets. Prolonged plaque deposition can lead to mineral loss, and if neglected, it may progress to a cavity or hole in a tooth.  
  • Teeth with receded gum lines also tend to get cavities faster. The exposed roots are not strong enough to sustain the harsh mouth environment as does the enamel and soon become attacked by plaque and bacteria leading to root cavities.

What does a cavity look like on a front tooth?

A cavity begins on the front tooth as a reversible dull white spots. The white zone shows areas of mineral loss (demineralization).  

A cavity between front teeth that progresses into dentin appears as half moon-shaped or scooped out brown or black discoloration.

Moreover, the cavities on the front teeth often involve the area next to the gum line, particularly if you have teeth with gum recession. 

How to fix a front tooth cavity?

Before fixing a front tooth, dentists conduct a few tests to check if the tooth is alive with one or more x-rays to confirm the extent of the decay. The treatment varies with the spread of infection and involves the following:

Fluoride treatment for early stages of demineralization

The application of different forms of fluoride prevents the progression of decay at an early stage. Fluoride works on the teeth through three mechanisms:

  • It stops the mineral loss from enamel.
  • The lost mineral from enamel is replaced by fluoride making it more resistant to acid attack.
  • It also hampers the production of bacterial products from decay-causing bacteria that produce acid to dissolve minerals from the tooth.

Several methods are used to deliver fluoride to the teeth in caries susceptible patients. These include the following:

  • The dentist applied fluoride varnishes in the form of gels, varnishes, or foam. The varnishes contain higher concentrations of fluoride than toothpaste and mouthwash. 
  • Use of fluoride toothpaste and mouth, which patients can use at home. 
  • Dietary fluoride supplementation, such as fluoridated milk.

Filling for small to moderate-sized cavities

A front tooth with a small to moderate-sized cavity requires a tooth-colored composite filling. The tooth is often painless at this stage. However, the patients are more concerned about the unsightliness because of the discoloration and cavitation of the affected tooth. 

Due to the high esthetic demand for front teeth, the selected shade of dental composite reproduces the optical properties (ability to reflect light) with color and translucency (clarity) close to natural teeth and good final polish in surface texture analogous to enamel. 

Composite fillings are technique sensitive and require adequate moisture control during their placement. However, a well-placed filling may last up to 8-10 years.  

Any tooth restored by composite filling material involves two main steps, namely, 

  • Preparing the tooth for placement of restorative material.
  • Placement of composite material. 

Root canal treatment for a deep painful cavity

The infection encroaching on the nerves (pulp) of the tooth requires root canal treatment. It involves the replacement of irreversibly damaged pulp with a biocompatible (safe) material to repair the diseased tooth.  

How to prevent a cavity in a front tooth

The tips and instructions listed below benefits may help you in preventing a cavity in the front tooth: 

  • Eating fiber-rich food has a natural scrubbing action on the teeth. Also, avoid refined foods and drinks as they stick to the teeth because of the absence of fiber.
  • Make a habit of brushing teeth twice daily for two minutes and flossing once daily. Good oral hygiene reduces plaque that harbors cavity-producing bacteria.
  • The use of fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash protects teeth against tooth decay. The dentist also recommends fluoride varnish in cavities susceptible to patients. 
  • Avoid tooth brushing for at least 20 min after a sugary meal, as toothbrush bristles can damage the softened enamel.

Following remedies ease the symtoms of dry mouth in xerostomic patients:

Chewing on sugar-free Xylitol gums after meals increases salivary flow. Saliva contains enzymes and minerals that aid in giving minerals (calcium and phosphate ions) back to the demineralized teeth, a process known as remineralization.

Frequently sipping on the water keep their tissues (mouth) hydrated. 

Acupuncture therapy also increases the saliva from the salivary glands.  

  • In patients with crooked or crowded teeth, using a single tufted brush removes plaque from areas where teeth overlap and are inaccessible to the regular toothbrush.
  • The use of proxabrush aids in cleaning between the orthodontic wires in orthodontic patients where the regular-sized toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Drinking some plain water washes sugars out of the mouth after a sugary food or drink.
  • Annual dental checkup helps in the early diagnosis and treatment of tooth decay.

Frequently asked questions 

Can a front tooth be filled?

Yes, front teeth can be filled with a tooth-colored filling if the infection is in the dentin and hasn’t advanced into the nerves (pulp) of the tooth. The process involves the removal of decay with a dental drill followed by a composite filling. 

Are front teeth fillings noticeable?

Front teeth fillings are tooth-colored and are not noticeable by people. The prepared tooth is matched with the color shade guide provided by the manufacturer in the sunlight to get the exact match of shade. The fillings are smoothened and polished to merge with the natural tooth. 

If you are a habitual drinker of coffee or black tea drink, the filling may get stained over time and need a replacement. 

How long do front teeth fillings last?

Fillings in the front teeth require a lot of care because they are only supported from two sides and are prone to breakage on biting hard food. Patients are instructed to bite soft foods such as sandwiches, avoiding any hard food that can dislodge the filling. If taken good care of, the fillings can last up to 8-10 years. 

Summary 

A cavity in front tooth is uncommon due to its smooth surface. People with the decreased salivary flow and crowded teeth often get holes in the front teeth. Also, orthodontic patients and people with enamel defects are more prone to front tooth decay. 

The decay appears as black or brown discoloration or a small cavity on the side of the front tooth. In patients with gum recession, a cavity at the top of the front tooth near the gum line can also be seen. 

The cavities are restored by removing the decay and filling with a composite filling. 

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