Taking care of your mouth is essential for the prevention of oral health issues. It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day. It is also recommended that you have at least two professional cleanings and exams each year. Neglecting any part of your oral care routine can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, both of which can lead to lead to cavities. If a cavity forms, it is important to have it treated as soon as possible. At Shenandoah Family Dentistry, we can treat your cavities with dental fillings.
How Do Cavities Develop?
Poor oral hygiene practices facilitate the buildup of plaque and bacteria, both of which produce acids. These acids, when left on the surfaces of the teeth for too long, begin to erode the enamel, causing tooth decay. Eventually, cavities, or small pits, form on the teeth. Bacteria take up residence in these cavities and continue to multiply. As they do, they continue to destroy the structure of your teeth. The cavities continue to grow in size, and can even develop into the inner layers of the teeth. If this happens, you could be left with a painful infection, as well as other complications.
Traditionally, amalgam fillings have been used to treat cavities. These fillings have been in use for over 150 years, and are well-known for their superior strength. They can withstand heavy biting forces, making them ideal for cavities at the back of the mouth.
Amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals, which are suspended in mercury. They are silver in color and stand out quite obviously from the rest of your natural tooth. This can cause aesthetic concerns, particularly for cavities toward the front of the mouth. The metal and mercury content in these fillings also raise some concerns with many patients.
The process for filling cavities with amalgam is a fairly straightforward procedure that can be completed in a single visit. A local anesthetic is administered, which helps to prevent you from feeling any discomfort. The decay is removed from the tooth and the cavity is shaped. The amalgam is placed into the cavity and smoothed. Finally, it is hardened and immediately begins protecting your tooth.
Tooth-colored fillings were developed as an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. These fillings are composite resin, which is a mixture of fine glass, plastic and other materials. They are white in color, matching the color of your natural enamel. While they are not as strong as amalgam, they are perfect for cavities in teeth toward the front of the mouth. Composite resin fillings are free from metals, as well as mercury.
Composite resin fillings are placed in a similar fashion to traditional amalgam fillings. The tooth is cleaned and the decay is drilled away. Not every situation requires a local anesthetic. This is because we do not need to remove as much of your natural tooth structure. Composite resin actually bonds to the tooth, rather than just sitting inside of it. After the material is placed inside, the filling is cured using a specialized light, and it is finally polished to a beautiful, natural finish.
If you suspect you have a cavity, do not wait for your next appointment. Getting it filled as soon as possible is essential for the prevention of serious damage. Call Shenandoah Family Dentistry to schedule your consultation today at (540) 667-8731.