Dental fillings are the most common initial treatment for cavities. Dental cavities are permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well. If cavities are not treated rapidly, you may experience pain, infections, and (in extreme cases) even tooth loss. The main purpose of treating a cavity is to prevent unwanted damage to your teeth, but thanks to modern dental medicine, cavities can also provide cosmetic benefits to your smile.
Symptoms of a cavity
It is not uncommon that a person has a cavity or multiple cavities without any symptoms or discomfort. The signs and symptoms of cavities vary on the size of the cavity and location. As the damage to your tooth gets larger, it may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Toothache, spontaneous pain, or pain that occurs without any obvious cause
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
- Visible holes or pits in your teeth
- Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth
- Pain when you bite down
How to treat a cavity
A filling is used to treat a cavity in a tooth. A dentist removes the decayed tooth tissue and then fills the space with a filling material. Popular fillings for cavities are tooth-colored (composite) fillings and silver-colored (amalgam) fillings. The materials for these fillings constantly evolve. Traditionally, cavities were treated with fillings that contained mercury, silver, tin, and copper metals. Although safe, these fillings could be distinguished from afar. Composite fillings are becoming more popular today because many patients prefer natural-looking fillings that can last just as long as alternative materials.
Benefits of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are a mixture of glass and plastic. In some cases, they can also be used to refine the appearance of otherwise healthy teeth. Tooth-colored fillings offer patients the following benefits:
- Insulated: Composite fillings are insulated and do not change their shape despite shifts in temperature.
- Strength: Composite fillings require less of the natural tooth structure to be removed so the tooth’s strength remains and there is a lesser risk of damage.
- Aesthetics: Composite fillings blend with the teeth so most patients can’t even see the filling once it has been placed. This fact has made dental fillings a cosmetic procedure.
Candidates for Composite Fillings
If you have a tooth with a small to a medium area of decay then you may be a candidate for a filling. This might also be the correct procedure for patients that want to replace silver fillings with tooth-cored ones. To determine if a composite filling is right for you, schedule a consultation with Sedation Dental Care in Raleigh, NC. Their Smile Center meets the needs of their patients. If you suffer from dental anxiety the team is ready to provide you with dental sedation. For patients that have a significantly decayed tooth other treatments are available like same-day dental crowns, dental implants, or root canals.
Clear fillings can be completed in a single dental appointment. Your dentist will begin by removing decayed tissue and cleaning the surrounding area. Then, the composite material will be placed inside the remaining cavity. At first, the composite resin is a thick gel, so it will need a special curing light to be stiffened in place. In most cases, the filling is hardened one layer at a time, with about three layers being used overall. The final layer will be shaped and polished so that it blends in with the surrounding tooth structure.
After your white filling, you will be able to return to your normal routine. For a few days, you may experience some minimal tooth sensitivity as your tooth adjusts to the new filling. You will need to practice regular oral hygiene and attend regular dental exams and cleanings to maintain a healthy smile.