Tooth decay is a dental issue that many people face at some point in life. According to the National Institute of Health, 92% of adults age 20-64 have tooth decay in their permanent teeth. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria-caused acid eats away at your teeth. Though cavities can be very painful and cause uncomfortable tooth sensitivity, the process for rectifying tooth decay is quite simple and painless. To treat cavities, we properly remove the decay then fill the affected area of the tooth with a durable substance to prevent further damage.
Before starting the filling process, we will numb the area surrounding the affected tooth using an anesthetic to avoid causing any discomfort during the procedure. For some more extensive tooth filling procedures, your dentist may administer a sedative agent (also known as nitrous oxide or laughing gas) to promote relaxation. Once all the decay is successfully removed, the area is replaced with a filling made from one of the various types of materials.
What are Cavity Fillings?
After a thorough examination of your unique treatment needs, we will determine the best filling for your specific needs. Cavity fillings are made of a variety of materials as mentioned below:
- Amalgam—a form of metal blend— is one of the more commonly used materials for dental fillings. The American Dental Association deems Amalgam safe, durable, and affordable, noting that more than 100 million Americans have used this method for teeth restoration.
- Also a common choice, composite resins are tooth-colored fillings that blend well with your teeth, making the tooth filling nearly undetectable to the naked eye. Composite resin fillings are ideal for small and large fillings alike, especially for the more visible parts of the teeth.
- Ionomers, also made of a tooth-colored material, are often used for people with extensive decay in the part of the tooth that extends below the gum. Some ionomer fillings release small amounts of fluoride, which may help those who are prone to cavities.
- Some people opt for cast gold dental fillings, which may last longer than any other material. However, this material is less commonly used and may require at least two office visits—first to make an impression of the tooth and then to place it.
- Many patients receive ceramic cavity fillings because they offer the discreetness of a tooth-colored material and provide enhanced resistance to abrasion and staining.
What to Expect After Treatment
After your cavity filling, you may experience a numbing sensation in your lips and gums for several hours until the anesthesia subsides. To avoid injuring your tongue or inner cheek, take caution while chewing.
Why are Cavity Fillings Necessary?
When decay creates a cavity on a tooth’s surface, a cavity filling is required to prevent further damage. Without proper treatment, the cavity may cause sensitivity or a painful abscess that could lead to more severe problems such as bone loss.
How Well Does it Work?
Although a cavity filling will stop the tooth from decaying, over time, you may need to replace a worn-out filling. Also, the affected tooth may become sensitive to heat and cold for a several days after your procedure. If that happens to you, we can recommend specialty toothpaste that may curb some of the sensitivity and discomfort.
Are There Risks?
While cavity fillings are completely safe procedures, be sure to let your dentist know if you have any heart problems. For those with an existing heart condition, some procedures can cause bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and increase the chance of infection in other parts of the body. In this case, an antibiotic may be prescribed before the procedure to lower the risk of developing a heart infection called endocarditis that affects the inner lining of the heart chambers and heart valves.
Something to Consider
It’s important to begin treatment before tooth decay worsens and affects a nerve. Severe decay may cause pain or tooth loss and may require a costly crown, root canal, or tooth removal. So stay on top of your dental hygiene by receiving a regular cleaning once every six months so your dentist can thoroughly examine your teeth and correct any issues at the start. Early detection and prevention are the best tools you have to keep a healthy, brilliant smile.
Think you might have a cavity? Schedule an appointment now for a full cleaning and examination at Aesthetic Dental Clinique, a family dental practice with locations in Southfield, Michigan, and Detroit, Michigan.