Cavities are one of the most common oral health issues. They are generally associated with young children, but they can affect anyone. Many adults have had at least one cavity in an adult tooth in their lifetime. When cavities develop, treatment is needed right away. Harmony Dental can help with a dental filling.
How Do I Get Cavities?
A cavity forms as a result of tooth decay. During the course of the day, plaque and bacteria accumulate in your mouth. While these substances are completely natural, they can be harmful in large amounts. Both plaque and bacteria produce harmful acids that can begin to erode or eat away at, the protective enamel layer of your teeth. This erosion leads to the formation of weak spots that eventually develop into small pits called cavities. Without treatment, cavities grow larger and deeper. When this happens, the physical strength of the tooth, as well as its health, can be greatly compromised. One of the most common treatments for a cavity is a filling.
Traditional Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings are the oldest fillings. Amalgam is a made up of a mixture of metals that are suspended in mercury. These fillings are known for their incredible strength, making them ideal for treating teeth near the back of your mouth where chewing pressures are greater.
While amalgam fillings are strong, they do have a few disadvantages. First, the material is silver. The filling stands out prominently against your natural tooth color, which can cause significant aesthetic issues when treating cavities at the front of your mouth. The other major drawback is the materials used. Patients with metal allergies may not be able to receive these types of fillings. Other patients express concerns over the use of mercury.
The process for getting an amalgam filling is simple and straightforward, requiring only a single appointment. The process is done under a local anesthetic, which helps you to remain comfortable during treatment. First, the tooth is cleaned. Next, we remove the decay from the cavity and clean the tooth again. We then place the amalgam material inside of the cavity and smooth it before curing, or hardening, it. Once cured, you are provided with immediate protection.
Composite, or Tooth Colored, Fillings
Composite fillings, also called tooth colored fillings, are an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. These fillings use composite resin, a material made up of fine glass, plastic, and other substances. While not as strong as amalgam, composite fillings match the color of your natural teeth. These features make composite fillings perfect for treating cavities at the front of your mouth where biting and chewing pressures are less. The material also bonds to your tooth, which means less of your natural tooth structure needs to be removed. With these types of fillings, no one will be able to tell that they are there.
The process for placing a composite filling is fairly similar to placing amalgam fillings. Depending upon the depth and location of the filling, you may or may not need a local anesthetic. We first clean your tooth and remove the decay. Next, an acid etch is placed into the cavity to create a rough texture. We wash the acid off and dry the tooth. The composite resin is placed into the cavity and cured. Finally, we polish the material smoothly, and your tooth is immediately protected.
A filling can help to restore the health of a tooth affected by decay, preventing serious complications such as infections. If you suspect that you have a cavity, call Harmony Dental at (541) 246-3250 to schedule your appointment today.