Effective Treatment For Your Cavities
Cavities are holes that form in the teeth due to tooth decay, which is damage to the structural integrity of your teeth. Tooth decay is often the result of an unhealthy level of bacteria that develop due to poor oral hygiene or a diet high in carbs and sugars. Your mouth has its own microbiome full of naturally occurring bacteria responsible for breaking down food, delivering nutrients to the rest of your body, and protecting you from foreign agents. Most of the time, they do their job quietly and diligently.
However, these naturally occurring bacteria feed on carbs and sugar and when there is excess for them to consume, they will reproduce to an unhealthy level which can throw off the balance of your microbiome. As they eat and multiply, they do two things—they gather along the surfaces of your teeth and gums in the form of a film-like substance called plaque while they search for more nutrients and they also produce acids as they eat. The acids attack and penetrate your enamel which causes cavities to form. Plaque can be easily removed with regular brushing and flossing but if left untreated, the plaque can solidify into tartar (calculus) which can only be removed with specialized dental tools.
Cavities may seem like a small issue but, if left untreated, the bacteria that cause cavities can infiltrate the insides of your teeth, infect your gums, and eventually work their way into your bloodstream, causing a host of other health issues. To prevent this, Dr. Burneson of Today’s Dentistry recommends having any cavities treated with dental fillings.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are used to fill in the hollow spaces in the tooth caused by cavities and protect the structural integrity of your remaining tooth. By filling the space, your natural tooth is less susceptible to further decay because the bacteria no longer have access to the insides of your tooth.
Filling cavities sooner rather than later can prevent the need for root canals, tooth extraction, and other invasive procedures, which means not only will you experience less pain, but also you’ll spend less time and money on treatments and recovery.
Types of Fillings
Dental fillings can be made of a variety of materials including gold, silver (amalgam), porcelain, or tooth-colored composite material. Dental fillings can also be used to repair broken or cracked teeth as well as teeth that have become worn due to nail-biting or bruxism, a condition where you grind your teeth during sleep.
At Today’s Dentistry, we offer both silver (amalgam) fillings and tooth-colored composite fillings.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are the type of fillings that were most commonly used to treat cavities. They are incredibly long-lasting, durable, and tend to be less expensive than other options. Silver fillings also dry much more quickly during placement.
Silver fillings do have some disadvantages. Because of their silver hue, they are very noticeable and they can also cause your affected tooth to take on a silver hue. In order to place this type of filling, more of your healthy tooth must be removed to make room for the amalgam. In very rare cases, some patients have an allergic reaction to the mercury contained in amalgam fillings.
Composite (tooth-colored) fillings are another type of filing made from a composite resin material. They are color-matched to your natural teeth so they blend in seamlessly with your smile. Resin material also bonds extremely well to the natural tooth’s structure, so you have an additional layer of support. In many cases, more of your natural tooth is preserved during the placement process.
Composite fillings also have their own set of disadvantages. They are more susceptible to normal wear and tear, especially if used to fill larger cavities. They can cost nearly twice as much as their amalgam counterparts and because they need to be dried in layers, they do take longer to place than amalgam fillings.
What To Expect During Treatment
During your appointment, Dr. Burneson will begin by conducting a thorough examination to identify any potential problem areas or cavities that need to be filled. Afterward, we’ll determine the best course of action for treating your cavities effectively based on your individual needs.
Fillings can be placed in one visit and there is no downtime following the procedure. Before getting started, we’ll administer a local anesthetic so your experience is pain-free. We’ll thoroughly clean your teeth to ensure they’re free from bacteria and any signs of decay. If the decay has reached any nerves, we’ll apply a special medication for additional protection.
Once everything is clean, Dr. Burneson will place, shape, and polish your filling so that it not only blends into your bite properly but also restores the shape and function of your tooth.
Following placement, it’s common to experience sensitivity to hot and cold sensations, but once your teeth become accustomed to the filling, the sensitivity should subside. Dr. Burneson also recommends avoiding hard, chewy, or sticky foods for up to two weeks after your fillings are placed.
Caring For Your Filling
Having a cavity filled does strengthen your tooth, but it doesn’t make it completely immune to tooth decay. To ensure the longevity of your filling, keeping good oral hygiene is a must. Dr. Burneson recommends the following for establishing a consistent oral health regimen:
- Brushing twice a day — Using a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth after meals will help to prevent oral health issues. Lingering food particles can lead to the development of harmful bacteria, so it’s important to make sure your mouth remains debris-free as much as possible.
- Flossing once per day — Flossing allows you to remove any unseen debris that gets stuck between your teeth. Flossing before bed is preferable, because it prevents food particles between your teeth from forming plaque while you sleep.
- Rinsing after meals — The longer food is allowed to sit in your mouth, the more susceptible you become to bacteria developing. Rinsing after meals is one of the easiest ways to keep your mouth clean throughout the day.
- Attending your dental appointments — Even with a consistent oral health routine, there are some parts of the mouth that only specialized dental tools wielded by trained dental professionals can reach. This is why scheduling a dental appointment at least once every six months is so vital to the upkeep of your oral health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do dental fillings last?
Composite fillings can last upwards of five years with proper care while amalgam fillings can last anywhere from 10-15 years. Keeping consistent oral hygiene habits and regularly visiting Dr. Burneson for exams can increase the longevity of your fillings.
When are dental fillings necessary?
There are many ways to treat a tooth before and after tooth decay sets in and the type of procedure Dr. Burnett uses will depend on how much of your tooth is affected by the decay. If the decay has only affected a small area and has not reached the cusps of your teeth (the pointed peaks), Dr. Burneson will most likely recommend a dental filling.
Do dental fillings expand?
One of the disadvantages of amalgam fillings is that they can expand due to temperature changes. While the expansion usually isn’t drastic or noticeable, over time it can possibly lead to a cracked tooth.
Composite fillings, on the other hand, don’t expand or contract due to temperature.
Are there side effects of dental fillings?
The most common side effect following a dental filling placement is general tooth sensitivity for anywhere between two to four weeks.
Amalgam fillings specifically contain mercury and in very rare cases, some patients have an allergic reaction to them.
If you experience an allergic reaction to your filling, have unbearable sensitivity, or have sensitivity that lasts more than a few weeks, contact our office at (541) 482-7771 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment with Dr. Burneson as soon as possible.
Protect Your Teeth In One Appointment
Cavities don’t heal themselves so it’s important to get them treated with a dental filling. At Today’s Dentistry, our goal is to keep your smile healthy and whole, which is why we offer high-quality dental fillings that can complete your smile and protect your oral health. If you’d like to learn more about our dental fillings or you’re ready to make an appointment at our Ashland office, give us a call at (541) 482-7771 or fill out our contact form below.