Typically the most common procedure to be done in a general dental office, fillings are the most effective way to repair small amounts of decayed tooth structure and "restore" your tooth back to health. In many ways fillings prevent infection and other, more extensive, dental problems by catching bacteria before it's too deep or undermines the tooth structure too much. Fillings are also a great way to repair broken teeth, when there is enough remaining natural tooth structure to support the filling.
How Does a "Cavity" Start?
A "cavity" or "tooth decay" begins when plaque bacteria develops a "biofilm" (a sticky layer to allow the bacteria to grow uninterrupted - easy to imagine a barnacle on a boat). As the bacteria digests sugar in the mouth it produces acid and "eats away" at the enamel and dentin of the tooth. This decayed tooth structure and bacteria can be identified with special dental tools or in between the teeth it can be seen using x-rays as it can be outside the reach of dental tools. At Currie Barracks Dental we use ultra low radiation digital x-rays to further reduce the already minimal amount of radiation you're exposed to from dental x-rays.
What Can Be Done To Fix It?
We often start by "freezing" or anesthetizing the tooth or teeth involved, and then isolating them to keep the area dry and clean so we can see what's decayed and what isn't. Decayed tooth structure is essentially cleaned out and a filling is placed to "fill" the hole of the lost diseased tooth structure. This filling is bonded (glued) to the healthy unaffected tooth structure. Most often we are able to place white "composite resin" fillings and so the filling looks almost identical to the original tooth. The tooth will be carefully shaped and contoured so that it also feels and functions just like the original tooth, hence the term "dental restoration".
How Do I Know if I Have a Cavity?
Cavities destroy teeth silently, and rarely will pain be felt until there is significant damage and possible infection. The best way to identify and address tooth decay is to see your dentist every six months. Good oral hygiene and care with your diet as well as six-month visits to the dental hygienist will reduce the amount of bacteria and plaque that can cause tooth decay therefore preventing cavities all together. Good oral hygiene can be considered brushing twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening for two minutes each as well as flossing your teeth once a day.
What Happens with Deep Cavities?
In the middle of a tooth there is a nerve and blood supply to the tooth and this nerve and blood supply can become inflamed or infected as a result of the bacteria decaying the tooth. This can result in needing Root Canal Therapy to alleviate the infection or inflammation. In other cases the decay can seriously undermine the tooth structure resulting in the inability for a filling to adequately restore dental function. If a significant amount of tooth structure is affected your tooth may require a Crown to be optimally functional without risk of fracture. In some cases a tooth is so decayed that it cannot even support a crown and it may require extraction.
Call To Schedule Your Next Exam
At Currie Barracks Dental, we ensure that we are very well versed in the best possible materials and techniques to restore your decayed or broken teeth effectively and for the long term. However, our number one goal is prevention. We will work together with you to ensure that if you need fillings it's a comfortable experience and we prevent further problems the best we can. Make your appointment today. Let us treat you right.