Cavities are the breakdown of teeth due to bacteria, also known as tooth decay. Bacteria can affect both the tooth enamel (outer coating) and dentin (inner coating). It’s common for people to have cavities without knowing they do because they don’t typically cause a lot of discomfort until they get worse. The more time that passes, the worse the cavity will become. If you wake up with a toothache or feel a sharp pain in your mouth while eating or drinking, it’s quite possible that you have developed a cavity and should schedule an exam with your dentist.
Cavities are caused from food and sugars sticking to the inside and outside of your teeth. Plaque builds up and carries bacteria that will begin to damage your teeth. Although cavities are most commonly found in children, adults should still visit the dentist every six months to have their teeth cleaned and examined. While adults may eat less junk food and be more conscious about brushing their teeth, gums naturally recede with age, exposing areas of the root and allowing food to become trapped in those areas, which are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
In most cases a cavity can be fixed with a filling, but if the tooth isn’t treated the condition can become increasingly worse and more painful. Although it’s not very common, some cavities will require the tooth to be pulled if it cannot be repaired.
Dental fillings are used to fill cavities and repair cracked or broken teeth. Fillings can be done with gold, porcelain, or silver amalgam, but is most commonly done with materials called composite resin fillings that are designed to match the color of your teeth.
Additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings because it requires multiple layers and a special light to dry and harden the area around the filling.
To fill a tooth, a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area around the tooth. A laser or air abrasion instrument will be used to remove the decayed area and your dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. In some cases, your dentist may apply a liner for your tooth called a glass ionomer to help protect the tooth and nerve before the tooth is filled. After your filling is complete, most dentists will polish the tooth to make it feel smooth and natural.
The procedure can vary in time and cost depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth. If you have any questions about fillings, please call our office today.