Dental fillings are a common restorative procedure for fixing a cavity in the tooth enamel. A cavity is the hole that is formed by tooth decay, which is caused by the acids and bacteria in what you eat and drink.
So maybe you already knew all that — but why does tooth decay happen? What are fillings made out of, exactly? And what is the process for getting a dental filling? Don’t go anywhere, because we dig deep into dental fillings (sorry for the pun) in this week’s blog post.
How What You Eat Causes Cavities
It’s not really the sugar itself in what you eat that causes cavities in the tooth enamel. Instead, it’s the acids that come off the sugars — or when they combine with the (otherwise harmless) bacteria that is naturally present in your mouth. Together, the combination leads to weakened tooth enamel and, yes, tiny holes that need to be filled.
You will probably not see a cavity with the naked eye right at first — or ever. That’s why visiting your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months is crucial. By undergoing regular x-rays and a professional exam, you can greatly reduce the chances that you will ever be surprised by a large area of untreated tooth decay.
Silver vs. White Fillings
Most adults probably have at least one silver filling in their mouths. Dental amalgam, or that silver material, was long used as a way to fill cavities efficiently and effectively.
Today, though, there is a better solution in tooth colored fillings. They are made out of biocompatible composite resin, a mixture of smooth glass and plastic particles. Tooth colored fillings offer a number of advantages, including:
- Less alteration of healthy tooth enamel is needed
- Set within minutes after placement
- Natural-looking material blends well with the surrounding teeth
- Are less sensitive to heat and cold
The Procedure for Dental Fillings
To place a tooth-colored filling, your dentist will need to remove all tooth decay and sanitize the tooth enamel. Composite fillings must be applied to a completely dry surface for proper bonding, so special barriers are placed to ensure no saliva comes into contact with the tooth. A shade is selected from the color-matching wheel.
Once all prep work has been completed, your dentist applies the composite resin to the cavity and shapes it into the hole. If the filling is on the chewing surface of the tooth, you will bite down a couple of times to make sure it fits with your dentition.
After the filling is complete, it is set under a special light. The entire process usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete. Local anesthesia and sedation are available for your complete comfort.
Nothing to Fear From a Dental Cavity
The conclusion? Your dentist always wants to help you prevent cavities — but if one does get the chance to develop, there’s really no need to fear. A tooth-colored filling will have you smiling healthily and beautifully once again.
About the Author
Dr. Allan J. Milewski has been practicing family dentistry since 1983. He is an expert in restorative, general, implant, and cosmetic treatments. To learn more about silver vs. white fillings or to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Medina, you are invited to contact the office at 330-725-2242.