While typically associated with children, cavities can happen to anyone. Even if you brush every single day, there are some areas of the mouth that are just more difficult to reach than others. By regularly missing these areas, cavities form. At Beautiful Smiles, we can fix cavities with fillings.
How Cavities Form
Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Your mouth contains oral bacteria, which reside there naturally. They feast on food particles that linger after you are finished eating. As they eat, they produce acids that can be harmful to the enamel of your teeth. Ignoring a regular brushing routine, or missing certain areas of your mouth when you do brush, allows bacteria to build up, and the acids an opportunity to begin destroying your enamel. Decay eventually leads to small pits (cavities) forming in your teeth. Bacteria take up residence in the cavities and continue their destruction. Untreated, cavities only continue to grow larger, and can eventually break into the inner layer of your teeth, causing an infection.
Amalgam fillings, also called silver fillings, are made up of metals (silver, tin, copper, nickel) suspended in liquid mercury. These fillings have been used to treat cavities for over 150 years. Amalgam fillings are exceptionally strong and can withstand extremely strong bite forces, which makes them ideal for filling cavities in the back of your mouth, where bite pressures are stronger. Despite their strength, amalgam fillings are not always the most popular option. This is due in part to their color, making them highly visible. Their mercury content, although safe for dental use, also plays a role.
The procedure for placing amalgam fillings is fairly straightforward and can be completed in a single visit. We start by administering a local anesthetic. The tooth is cleaned and the cavity cleared of decay. The cavity is then shaped so that it can effectively hold the filling. We then place the material into your cavity and smooth it. It is then cured, or hardened, providing your tooth with protection against further damage.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings were first introduced in the 1960’s. These tooth-colored fillings are made up of plastic, fine glass, and other materials. The fact that they match the color of your enamel makes them an ideal cosmetic solution to cavities in the teeth visible when you smile. Developments have been made on composite resin fillings to make them stronger than what they once were. They are still not nearly as strong as amalgam and are better suited for teeth toward the front of your mouth.
Composite resin fillings can be placed in one of two ways. The first way is fairly similar to the method used for placing amalgam fillings. After a local anesthetic, we clean the tooth and remove the decay. The cavity is shaped (although it requires less preparation than amalgam) and the material is packed inside. The material is cured and then polished, which allows it to sit flush against your tooth and keeps your bite the same.
The other method for placing composite resin fillings is called the indirect method. After the tooth is cleaned of decay, an impression is taken. The impression is used to create the filling outside of the tooth. Once it is ready, it is cemented into place.
If you have a cavity, call Beautiful Smiles at (530) 206-9211 to discuss your filling options today. We offer other preventive dental treatments like dental crowns and dental sealants!