Your teeth enamel does a pretty good job of protecting your teeth. However, if your oral hygiene habits go lax, meaning you don’t keep up with regular brushing and flossing, that protective layer could get damaged. Not cleaning the teeth properly allows plaque and food debris to remain on the teeth surfaces. Bacteria that live in the plaque can then start to attack teeth enamel, leading to cavities, or small holes in the teeth. If left untreated, the decay can spread deeper into the tooth; it could eventually reach the sensitive inner pulp.
The solution for treating a cavity is typically to use dental fillings. This treatment fills in the hole created by the tooth decay to not only restore the tooth to its full strength, but also to protect it from further decay. At our office, we are happy to offer this common treatment to restore the health of your teeth.
Fillings can be made of different materials. These include amalgam, cast gold, composite, porcelain, and glass ionomer. Each material offers its own level of strength and comes with a different cost. While metal fillings may be stronger, fillings made of porcelain or composite tend to be more popular because they are tooth-colored and are less noticeable in the mouth. You can discuss your options in materials with your dentist.
Dentists usually find a cavity during a routine exam. They may be seen with the naked eye, but usually will require an x-ray to allow the dentist to see the extent of the tooth decay. Fillings can be placed during the same appointment. First, the tooth will be anesthetized. Once the tooth is numb, the decay will be removed, and the tooth will be cleaned. The filling material will then be applied. In most cases, it will be applied in layers to strengthen the filling. Each layer will be cured (hardened) using a special light. After all the layers have been applied, the filling material will be trimmed down and polished.
After getting your tooth filled, you may want to avoid drinking hot or cold liquids for a short time. You may also have to chew on the side of your mouth that did not receive treatment. You should recover fairly quickly from the treatment, however, and be able to use the tooth as normal again.