The Basics of a Cavity Filling
If you’ve ever been to the dentist, then you might also be familiar with cavities. Cavities are also known as dental caries or tooth decay. Tooth decay is one of the most chronic and prevalent diseases among children and adults. We have methods to detect cavities through x-rays and laser cavity detection. Once detected, we can remove the decayed part of your tooth and provide you a cavity filling to fix your tooth like new again. Cavity fillings are small, yet very effective at keeping your tooth intact and stopping more tooth decay from forming. Find out more about cavity fillings, how they’ve changed over the years, and what one can do for your smile today!
What Is A Cavity?
You may known the term “cavity” by the names of “dental caries” or “tooth decay”. All mean the same, and all refer to the decay of your tooth. Tooth decay comes as a result of poor hygiene. Plaque is a mixture of bacteria in your mouth and the sugars in the foods you eat. This mixture creates an acidic substance (which is plaque) that erodes your tooth enamel. If the teeth aren’t brushed and flossed often enough (or properly), then erosion occurs enough to create openings in your teeth. That acidic plaque then seeps inside the tender center of your tooth, where it causes quick decay. This decay is known as a cavity. Many patients won’t even know they have a cavity unless they see their dentist often for an examination or if the decay has become severe enough to cause pain when chewing and other symptoms.
How Do We Detect Cavities?
In the past, dentists could only detect cavities by a few methods: a patient started to experience tooth pain or sensitivity, probing tools found a cavity, or by using x-rays. However, technology now affords us the ability to use laser cavity detection. This is how we know if you will need a cavity filling or not. Laser cavity detection is an amazing advancement that allows dentists to harness the power of lasers to detect tooth decay. Tooth decay generally starts of very small, making it hard to detect until a cavity has grown. We can see cavities using x-ray imaging, but sometimes the small ones go unnoticed until they are large enough to show up on film.
However, with laser cavity detection, laser light can detect cavities and can show us their exact size, shape, and location in a tooth. This pen-like wand scans the surface of each tooth and blasts laser light on each tooth. In a healthy tooth, light passes through completely. However, if tooth decay is present, it will reflect the laser light, allowing us to detect a cavity before it has become severe. Once we detect that cavity, we can then use a cavity filling to stop tooth decay before it becomes more severe.
Treating Tooth Decay with a Cavity Filling
There are several materials you can choose from when it comes to receiving a cavity filling. In the past, metal amalgam fillings were the most popular choice of dentists. These were silver-colored fillings that were a mix of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. This material was used for decades because it is so durable. However, the most popular choice for a cavity filling today is a tooth-colored filling. This tooth-colored cavity filling is also known as a “composite filling”. It’s made from a mixture of glass or quartz filler and looks like a part of your natural tooth. Hence, the reason why it is called a “tooth-colored” cavity filling.
Many patients won’t mind what the material is made from, as long as it is resistant to fracture and is durable. Tooth-colored fillings are just that: durable for many years and resistant to breakage. We simply remove the part of the tooth that has been decayed, and replace it with a cavity filling that matches the color of your tooth. Most patients will not even be able to tell where the cavity occurred, as we preserve most of the natural tooth and its appearance throughout the process. A cavity filling is the most basic way to restore parts of a tooth that has decayed, and is the option most patients prefer instead of more serious procedures.
Good Oral Hygiene
What is the best way to prevent tooth decay from happening? Good oral hygiene! In fact, if you practice good oral hygiene, then you can potentially avoid tooth decay for your entire life. You can also avoid problems such as gum disease, which affects more than 64 million American adults. The American Dental Association recommends brushing the teeth at least twice a day. Some great times to fulfill that recommendation is in the morning after breakfast and before you go to bed. For patients who want an even better chance at avoiding cavities, they should brush about 30 minutes after every meal. Brushing too soon after meals that have acidic foods (citrus fruits, soda, etc.) can erode the tooth enamel.
Be wise when it comes to brushing and make sure you brush each individual tooth all the way to the gumline. Flossing is also an integral part of keeping your oral health in spectacular shape. You should floss your teeth at least once a day. When you do floss, make sure to drag the floss across your tooth surface to collect all the plaque that is caked on. Bring the floss all the way up into your gum line (or under the triangle gum shape between each tooth). That is where food likes to get trapped. By brushing and flossing daily, you can avoid many oral health issues. To be even more vigilant with your oral health, you can add mouthwash and fluoride to your oral hygiene routine.
Prevention Is Key
When it comes to cavities, you never have to have one! Establish good oral health habits and follow them every single day, morning and night. Also, come in to see us for comprehensive examinations and dental cleanings at least every 6 months if not more often. These are the ways to prevent tooth decay and to detect it early-on. Early detection will only require a cavity filling, whereas later detection may necessitate more rigorous procedures. Prevention is key to having a healthy mouth. If you need to schedule your exam and cleaning, call Dr. Ania’s office today at (303) 872-9940!