The possibility of getting cavities that require fillings is something that fills many dental patients with dread. Some people avoid the dentist altogether because of anxiety around dental treatments, putting their teeth and gums at increased risk for infection and decay. The fact is, cavities happen, but medical advances have made the process for drilling and filling cavities simple and pain-free. At Aspen Smile Dentistry, we pride ourselves on helping you feel comfortable throughout the filling procedure so you can get on your way with a healthier smile.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are areas of a tooth that have decayed and become permanently damaged. They create tiny holes that allow bacteria deeper into your tooth to create more damage and decay. Many things can cause tooth decay and cavity formation, such as the number and kinds of bacteria in your mouth, what you eat, and how effective your brushing and flossing are.
When bacteria and plaque build up on the surfaces of teeth, they react with the food you eat to produce acid that builds up further and eats away at the tooth’s surface. This is why regular brushing and flossing are so important, as they clean the surfaces and hard-to-reach areas of your teeth to reduce the chances of tooth decay at the source. But even great dental habits do not always entirely prevent cavities from forming, so it is essential to have regular examinations every six months to catch cavities early on and get them drilled and filled.
Treatment and Fillings
To fix a cavity, the tooth must be drilled, and then a filling put in place to cover the hole from the drilled out portion of the tooth. Before that occurs, patients are given an anesthetic, so they don’t experience pain or discomfort during the drilling. We can discuss with you the different options available to help you figure out what works best for you. Once the tooth is drilled and cleaned out, it is ready for filling.
Types of Dental Fillings
There are three common types of fillings:
- Silver fillings (amalgams)– long-lasting, inexpensive metal (amalgam) fillings include mercury to help make the composite shapeable. Many people opt for amalgam fillings because of their low cost and durability, but because they contain mercury and stand out among your teeth, some prefer natural-looking white fillings. One added benefit of metal fillings is their ability to handle chewing pretty much any material you eat, meaning they are much less likely to chip or crack than ceramic or composite white fillings.
- Gold fillings – filling made out of gold have similar benefits and characteristics to silver amalgam fillings. However, gold fillings do not contain mercury, though they are a much more expensive option than other more common types of fillings.
- Tooth-colored (white) fillings – composite resin (white) fillings are less durable than metal fillings but can match the color of your teeth and can form strong seals at the edges of the drill site. This also means that cavities don’t have to be drilled as much at the edges because white fillings can seal the gap, meaning a more healthy tooth remains after the procedure. White fillings are not significantly more expensive than metal fillings and are especially desirable for drilled cavities on front teeth. Last, white fillings
Taking Care of Teeth After Dental Fillings
After getting a filling, what you can eat depends on the type of filling and the treatment. Some white fillings can be hardened during the procedure with a special light, meaning you are free to eat and drink as soon as right after the procedure. On the other hand, metal fillings require extra time to harden and become fully strengthened. You will want to consult us on the best way to treat your newly filled tooth right after the treatment.