How Are Cavities filled?

How Cavities Are Filled
Picture this: You are walking out of the dentist’s office. You are met by a family member or friend in the waiting room. What is the first question they ask you: So, do you have any cavities? And as scary as they may sound, there are over 3 million cases of cavities per year in the United States. We have all heard of cavities, and many of us have experienced them too! However, not many of us know what cavities actually are, and how they are treated. So, let’s debunk some of the mystery behind these little guys!

What are cavities?

Cavities are caused by decay and damage, and can happen on the surface of your teeth, in between your teeth, and even in the roots of your teeth! This decay is often caused by a combination of bacteria, acid, food debris, and your saliva, resulting in plaque. There are a variety of ways that cavities can be formed, which is why it’s important to be informed and take precautionary measures! Dentists check your mouth for cavities during routine check ups twice a year. The most common treatment for cavities is to get a filling.

What is a filling?

A filling is a way that dentists can restore the shape and function of your tooth after a cavity. By literally “filling” in your tooth, a dentist is not only repairing the damage, but also blocking off bacteria from getting into your tooth in the future! There are many different materials that can be used to create a filling for teeth with cavities, depending on the circumstances.

What are the different kinds of fillings?

Today, there are several materials that can be used for fillings. Your dentist will be able to recommend the right material for you depending on the location and extent of your tooth decay, what your insurance covers, and personal preference.

  • Gold fillings can last up to 20 years and are cemented into the tooth. The filling must be created by a laboratory, which can also make gold fillings the most expensive option. They are made to order which may mean multiple appointments with your dentist before the filling is completed.
  • Amalgam/Silver fillings are highly resistant and relatively low-cost. However, their dark color can make them more noticeable, so the use of a silver filling is more dependent upon the location of your cavity.
  • Composite/Plastic fillings can be mixed to match the same color as your tooth, so may be more desirable if the location of your cavity is closer to the front of your mouth. However, these fillings are less resistant to chipping or wear and tear, and can also become stained from coffee or tobacco over time.
  • Porcelain fillings are also cemented into the tooth and are produced in a laboratory. Thus, the cost is similar to that of gold fillings, and they may require multiple appointments with your dentist. Porcelain fillings are very durable and resistant to staining.

What should you expect when getting a filling?

When getting a filling, a dentist will first administer a local anesthetic, meaning they will numb the area around the tooth to prevent pain during the procedure. Then, they will remove the decayed tooth materials, usually using a drill. With the drill, they will create a space for the new filling. Then, the dentist will clean the damaged area, and proceed to “fill in” the tooth! Depending on the material being used for the filling, the dentist will sometimes apply an acid gel to bond the filling, or apply a resin or glue followed by a bright light to the tooth to make the bond strong! After applying the filling, the dentist will finish up by polishing the new filling and tooth.

Treating your cavities doesn’t have to be a big mystery! But, in order to avoid cavities in the first place, it’s important to keep up with your dental hygiene routine and to check in with your dentist twice a year for an appointment! Click here to schedule an appointment with Delicate Smiles Dental today or call us at (303)-340-3330.