Dental Cavities and Fillings
Cavities, which form as a result of tooth decay, are most often associated with children. The truth is, however, that cavities can affect anyone of any age. Regular brushing and flossing, along with twice yearly dental visits, can help to prevent them from occurring. Even if you are diligent with your oral care routine, there are some areas of your mouth that may be missed when you brush and floss, which can lead to decay and cavities. At B.J. Myers DDS and Associates, we can restore the health of your teeth with fillings.
How Do Cavities Form?Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is a result of the acids produced by oral bacteria. Bacteria live in your mouth naturally. They feed on the sugars and other food particles that linger in your mouth after you eat. As they feed, they produce acids, which go to work attacking the enamel of your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing helps to keep oral bacteria at bay, and remove acids before they have a chance to harm your teeth. However, if you ignore your oral hygiene routine, or simply miss certain areas of your mouth on a regular basis, the acids begin to eat through your enamel. Eventually, small pits, cavities, begin to form. Bacteria can then hide out in these cavities, making it even more difficult to get rid of them. Untreated, the damage continues, and the cavities grow larger. They can bury deeper into the enamel until they reach the inner layer of the tooth, the dentin layer. This can allow bacteria to enter the interior of the affected tooth, which can then lead to a serious infection that requires a root canal to treat. Treating cavities as soon as possible is essential for stopping the destruction of your tooth and restoring the health of your mouth.
Amalgam FillingsAmalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years to treat cavities. They consist of metals – tin, copper, silver, and nickel – which are suspended in liquid mercury. Amalgam fillings are popular for their superior strength, able to withstand significant bite force (making them ideal for cavities at the back of the mouth). However, many patients tend to want to avoid amalgam fillings due to both their color (which makes them aesthetically unpleasing), and the fact that they contain mercury (even though the mercury has been proven safe for dental use).
Placing your amalgam fillings is a fairly simple and straightforward procedure, and can be completed in a single visit. They are often done under a local anesthetic. We begin by using a drill to remove the decay from your tooth and shape the cavity to create sufficient space for the filling. We then clean, disinfect, and dry the tooth. The amalgam material is packed into the cavity, smoothed and cured (hardened). When finished, your tooth is protected from further bacterial damage.
Composite Resin FillingsComposite resin fillings are more recent, having been around since the 1960s. They are made up of plastic, fine glass and other materials. While not nearly as strong as amalgam, composite resin perfectly blends in with the color of your natural enamel. They can also withstand normal biting and chewing forces. These factors make them ideal for cavities that have affected teeth toward the front of your mouth.
Composite resin fillings can be placed in one of two ways. The first method is similar to how amalgam fillings are placed. The decay is removed from the tooth and the cavity is shaped (less preparation is required than with amalgam fillings). We then place the material into the cavity and cure it with a special light. Finally, we smooth the filling so that it is smooth against your tooth.
The other method for placing a composite resin filling is known as an indirect method. Instead of curing the material inside your tooth, the filling is made outside of the tooth. After we remove the decay from the cavity, we take an impression of the tooth. The impression is sent off to our lab, where the custom filling is designed and created. A temporary filling is placed while you wait (it can take up to two weeks for an indirect filling to be completed). When it is ready, we remove the temporary filling and cement your permanent one into place.
If you suspect you have a cavity, don’t ignore it. Call B.J. Myers and Associates to schedule your appointment today.