One of the more common procedures that you may encounter at the dentist is a dental filling. When you get a cavity, your dentist will use a filling to prevent further decay. The beginning stages of tooth decay start with a cavity. A cavity forms when acids weaken the enamel and the tooth structure begins to fail.
Whether it is through genetics, diet, or daily oral healthcare, cavities break down the enamel and tunnel to the sensitive inner layer of the tooth—the pulp. Without any treatment, a cavity can wreak havoc on your oral health. Not only can a cavity cause pain and sensitivity, but it can also put you at risk of losing a tooth. Over time, the decay can spread to other teeth and potentially your gums. In order to halt the infection, your dentist uses dental fillings.
What Is the Process of a Filling?
Before going to the dentist, you may notice pain or sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. It may be the reason why you schedule your appointment in the first place. On the other hand, you may go in for a routine dental exam, and your dentist may find the beginnings of a cavity and suggest a filling. You may not feel any effects if a cavity is caught soon enough.
First, your dentist will take x-rays of your mouth to assess the extent of the decay. This will allow your dental team to make a treatment plan. Once your procedure begins, your dentist will numb the area to ensure you don’t feel any part of the decay removal process.
Next, your dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed area. Cleaning the site is essential to make sure that there is no remaining decay or infection. Then, your dentist will fill the cavity with whichever filling type you have selected or is best suited for you. Finally, your dentist will polish and ensure that the filling fits within your bite.
Types of Fillings
There are many different types of dental fillings. However, some are more common than others.
Tooth-colored composite fillings are routinely used in the filling process. Because they match the color of your existing teeth, composite fillings are very popular. Dentists will use composite fillings for a variety of different repairs, including chipped or broken teeth.
Cast gold fillings are an option for cavity repair. While they are expensive, cast gold fillings are highly durable and long-lasting. Unlike composite fillings that are prone to chipping and may only last up to five years, gold (or other metal fillings) can last 10 to 15 years.
Silver fillings—also called amalgams—are another way to fill a cavity. They are durable, much like gold fillings. Also, they can be less expensive than composite fillings in some situations. However, many patients don’t like the color of metal fillings. In addition, a dentist must remove more of the healthy part of the tooth in order to place the silver filling.