No cavities! You sigh with relief whenever the dentist gives you the good news that you won’t need a new filling - this time. Of course, fillings are not always something that you can avoid.
Dentists use fillings to treat teeth that are cracked, broken, worn down, or decaying. Filling the decayed area strengthens the tooth and keeps the decay from spreading. If left untreated, these problem teeth can lead to a lot of <a href="/reference/conditions/pain">pain</a>.
Dentists try to find cavities before they cause too much damage or pain. They identify cavities by looking for discolorations that indicate decay. They also use sharp metal instruments to feel the enamel of the tooth. The enamel around teeth that are decaying will be softer than the enamel around healthy teeth. Dentists can also use X-rays, small laser wands, and cavity detecting dye to identify cavities.
Once the cavities have been found, your dentist will determine if the problem can be fixed with a fluoride treatment. If a fluoride treatment isn’t enough, your dentist will remove the decayed area on the tooth and then replace that area with a filling.
Before a tooth is filled, the dentist will use a local anesthetic around the tooth to numb the area. Next, the dentist will use a drill, laser or abrasion instrument to remove the decayed part of the tooth. The extent of the decay will determine what tools will be used. Lastly, the area will be fitted with a filling.
There are several different filling materials that are available to dentists today. Teeth can be filled with gold, porcelain, tooth colored composites, plastic and composite resin. Cost, location, durability, and patient preference will determine which type of filling material will be used. Silver amalgam can also be used as filler, but patients should be cautious. Silver amalgam is made up of mercury mixed with silver and other metals. If a patients is allergic to mercury or concerned about mercury fillings, they should speak with Thomas Bowser, D.D.S. and choose another type of filling. Also, concerned patients can have their current mercury fillings removed and replaced with a different type of material.
Inlays and onlays are also options for filling teeth. These are called indirect fillings and require two dental visits. Indirect fillings are used when the tooth has become so decayed that there is not enough tooth structure left to support a filling. However, enough structure remains so a crown is not needed. The decay is removed and an impression of the tooth is taken. An indirect filling is made in a dental lab and then placed during the second visit. Severe tooth decay will call for a dental crown which is a cap that fully covers the decayed tooth.
Speak with Thomas Bowser, D.D.S. to determine which toothpaste, floss, and care you should use for your particular needs. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, please call (330) 758-3446 and schedule an appointment. After your initial dental work is completed, you can avoid new cavities by visiting your dentist regularly and maintaining good <a href="/reference/conditions/dental-health">dental health</a>.