Brushing and flossing every day are critical steps in the prevention of cavities. In addition to your daily care at home, it is also essential that you have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined every 6 months. Skipping any part of your oral hygiene routine, whether you occasionally forgo flossing or you do not have regular dental visits, can significantly increase your risk for cavity development. If a cavity does form, restorative treatment is necessary as soon as possible. Olson Family Dental can treat cavities with fillings.
What is a Cavity?
Plaque and bacteria are naturally occurring in your mouth. During the day, they accumulate on the surfaces of your teeth. Despite being natural, they are very harmful, especially in large quantities. Both plaque and bacteria produce harmful acids that erode the protective enamel layer of your teeth, resulting in tooth decay. Eventually, decay gives way to the formation of small pits, or cavities. The longer cavities go without treatment, the larger they become. Large cavities can compromise the strength and health of the tooth and can even lead to an infection.
Amalgam fillings are the traditional fillings for cavities and have been in use for over 150 years. These fillings are made up of a mixture of metals suspended in mercury. The metals consist of silver, tin, copper, and nickel. Amalgam fillings are known for their incredible strength. They can withstand a significant amount of use and are ideal for cavities toward the back of the mouth where bite forces are stronger. The process for placing amalgam fillings is fairly straightforward and can be completed in a single visit. First, a local anesthetic is administered. Next, the tooth is cleaned, and the decay is drilled away. The amalgam material is placed inside the tooth and smoothed. Finally, the material is cured. While amalgam fillings are exceptionally strong, they do have a few significant disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages is the fact that these fillings are silver in color. This makes them stand out from your natural tooth structure. The metals can cause issues for those with allergies. The fact that amalgam contains mercury is also a major concern for many patients.
Composite fillings provide an alternative to amalgam crowns. These crowns use composite resin to fill cavities; a substance made up of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. These types of fillings provide numerous benefits over amalgam. One of the biggest advantages is that the material blends in with the rest of your natural tooth structure. This makes a good option for cavities in highly visible teeth. Composite resin also does not contain any metals, nor does it contain any mercury. Composite resin also bonds with your tooth, rather than simply filling space, meaning less of your natural tooth structure needs to be drilled away. While the material is not as strong as metal, it is still strong enough to withstand most normal daily use. The process for getting composite fillings is similar to the process of getting an amalgam filling. Depending on the size and location of the cavity, you may not need a local anesthetic. The tooth is cleaned and decay removed. Next, an acid etch is applied to create a rough texture inside the cavity, which is done to enhance the bond between the material and the tooth. The acid is washed off and the tooth dried. The composite material is placed inside the tooth and cured using a special light. Finally, we polish the material smoothly, providing a seamless restoration of your oral health and the appearance of your smile. Fillings stop the progression of cavities and protect the tooth from further harm. Call Olson Family Dental today at (203) 663-3316 for more information.