Tooth decay affects almost everyone. About 96% of American adults experience some tooth decay in the past. The most common treatment for tooth decay, also called cavities, is a filling. In the past, fillings were made of metal: gold, or, more commonly metal amalgam, which is a mix of metal powders held together with toxic mercury. These fillings stood out on your teeth and could be very unattractive. Nowadays, we offer white or tooth-colored fillings that repair your teeth subtly and attractively
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is localized damage to your teeth caused by oral bacteria. When these bacteria consume foods in your mouth (mostly sugars and simple starches), they excrete acid. This acid damages your teeth, first removing some of the minerals from the tooth, and, eventually, destroying part of the tooth. This creates a hole in your teeth, commonly called a cavity, although dentists refer to them as “caries.”
A cavity is not only damage to your tooth, it’s also a place where food can become trapped and bacteria find shelter. Sheltering in a cavity gives bacteria a more steady food supply (trapped food can remain for hours, sometimes even after you brush.
Why Treat Tooth Decay?
Once cavities start, they have a tendency to grow. As bacteria shelter in the cavity, they can grow with less interference. Their acid becomes concentrated, and cavities can grow faster.
Left untreated, the cavity will eventually penetrate into the interior of the tooth, where the nerve is located. This can become very painful, but it also allows the bacteria to grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. Tooth infection can spread to the jawbone, your sinuses, and even your brain. An infected tooth requires root canal therapy to treat.
Bacteria can also spread from one cavity to infect other teeth. If you have decay in one tooth, you’re more likely to develop it in others. And cavities in teeth can increase your risk of developing infection around dental implants.
Two Types of Tooth Colored Fillings
When it comes to tooth-colored fillings, we offer two different types: composite fillings and porcelain fillings.
Composite fillings are made of resin (plastic) with inclusions of ceramic to make them harder or stronger. These fillings are inexpensive and can be placed in a single, quick procedure. They can be placed in relatively small cavities and don’t require the removal of much natural tooth structure. They are initially very attractive, but are susceptible to staining and are not as durable as other options.
Composite fillings begin as a soft putty that is used to fill in the cavity. Then a curing light shines on the plastic, which hardens it. For deep fillings, we may use several layers of placing and curing to make sure the filling is entirely hardened. Once the filling is completed, it is polished to give it an attractive luster like tooth enamel. Composites come in many colors and we can blend custom colors to give an even better match to your natural teeth.
Porcelain fillings are actually made of advanced ceramics that are highly durable, even though they have the translucency of porcelain or tooth enamel. Once the cavity is prepared (bacteria and decay are removed), we will take an impression of your teeth. Then we will send that impression to a lab, where your new ceramic filling is made. You will wear a temporary filling while the final is crafted. When the final filling is ready, we’ll remove the temporary and place the final fillings. You’ll love the attractiveness of the result, and you’ll love the durability. This is among the longest-lasting filling options.
Want to Replace Old Fillings?
We not only offer fillings for new cavities, we can replace your old metal fillings with tooth-colored ones. See our page on filling upgrades for more details.