The implementation of dental fillings has been a dentist’s answer to tooth decay for decades. Tooth decay develops when someone fails to exercise proper oral hygiene like brushing and flossing on a regular basis. The food and beverages consumed leave a sticky substance known as plaque on the teeth. Over time, the plaque eats through the hard exterior enamel of the tooth, revealing the soft interior pulp. Eventually, decay can lead to an infection, which is why it’s important to visit the dentist on a regular basis to scrape out the plaque and use a filling to seal the tooth.
The first step to receiving a cavity filling is to schedule an appointment with a qualified dentist for an exam. During a regular exam, the dentist uses a variety of tools like picks and lights to inspect the teeth and gums. One of the simplest ways to test for cavities is by using a pick to test the tops of the teeth. If the pick sinks or gets stuck in the enamel, it means decay has started to affect that tooth. If the decay has left behind an opening or hole, it has made a cavity.
Once the cavity is identified, the dentist needs to remove the decay. There are a variety of tools available, including a drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser. All are effective, and whichever one the dentist chooses is typically the one in which they have the most experience.
After the decay has been eliminated, the interior of the tooth is sanitized with a safe cleaning solution. This removes the risk of infection from any plaque that still remains. For cavities near the root of the tooth, a liner will be used to protect the nerve. The dentist then selects a material for the cavity filling, applies it in the tooth, and waits for it to harden. The top is then shaped and the patient is ready to go.
Not all fillings are the same. Some form a temporary tooth filling, while others are permanent. They can also be made of several different materials that have a broad range of strengths and weaknesses. It’s important when meeting with a dentist to learn their recommendation for your tooth but also to know your options during the procedure.
As the names imply, a temporary filling is meant to last for a short period of time, while the permanent one should not be removed. Temporary tooth fillings are made of soft, often soothing materials and are placed inside a deep cavity that requires a root canal or crown. They are used when time is needed to craft the crown in a dental lab for a patient. These temporary models can only be kept in place for six to eight weeks before they need replacement.
A permanent filing is applied in a single visit and is meant to permanently seal a tooth once a cavity has been located. Unlike temporary options, permanent fillings come in different materials that affect the overall appearance of the tooth.
The two most common filling materials are amalgam (silver) and composite resin. Amalgam fillings were popular in the dentistry of the 1980s through the early 2000s because of its durability and workability. It has fallen out of favor, though, because composite resin matches the natural color of the tooth, is more durable, and is less prone to tooth decay.
A modern dentist will often recommend the use of composite teeth filling over traditional materials like amalgam or gold. Exceptions can be made, though.
The first step in receiving any dental procedure is to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. A general or restorative dentist will be the most likely candidates for cavity inspection and filling placement. Individuals seeking tooth filling in New Britain, CT can contact Family Dentistry of Central Connecticut for appointments and more information about this procedure.