Cavities are often associated with kids. They tend to have a harder time cleaning their mouths, and they are also more likely to skip out on regular brushing and flossing sessions. However, just because you brush twice a day and floss every day, you are not immune. Cavities can affect anyone. National Dental East Meadow can help to restore the health of your teeth with fillings.
WHAT CAUSES CAVITIES?
Oral bacteria live naturally within your mouth. They feed on food particles that are left in your mouth and multiply rapidly. Regular brushing, flossing and dental visits help to keep their numbers down. When you neglect brushing, or your brushing is not thorough, you risk leaving behind some bacteria and debris. As the bacteria eat, they produce acids, which begin to eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Eventually, small pits form in your teeth, creating a cozy hiding space for some bacteria. Once there, they can be difficult to remove and continue to cause damage, enlarging the cavity. The longer the cavity goes untreated, the worse the damage. Eventually, the bacteria can make their way to the inner layers of your teeth, which can lead to an infection.
Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, have been used for several decades to fill cavities. Their strength is what has made them so popular. They are made up of a mixture of metals (tin, copper, silver, nickel) in liquid mercury. The curing process allows the material to become hard and strong.
The strength of amalgam fillings makes them popular for use in back teeth, where chewing forces are greater. Their color, however, can make them undesirable, especially for teeth that are visible when you smile. Many patients are also wary of amalgam fillings because of their mercury content, although studies have shown the amount used to be safe for dental use.
The process for getting an amalgam filling is simple and can be completed in a single visit. We start by cleaning your tooth. A local anesthetic is applied to help with any discomfort. We then drill away the decay and shape the cavity for the filling. The cavity is cleaned, disinfected and dried. The amalgam is then placed in the cavity, smoothed and dried.
COMPOSITE RESIN FILLINGS
Composite resin fillings, also referred to as tooth colored fillings, are a more recent development. It consists of a mixture of glass, plastic and other materials. This material is also frequently used for dental bonding. Because of its color matching ability, composite resin is a popular choice for filling cavities in the teeth toward the front of your mouth. While it does blend in well, it is not as strong as amalgam. However, it does not contain mercury or other metals.
There are two procedures for composite resin fillings. The first is fairly similar to the procedure for amalgam fillings. However, because composite resin bonds with your tooth, less of your tooth structure needs to be removed before placement. The material is cured with a special light that enhances its bond.
The other method for placing composite resin fillings involves an indirect procedure. After your tooth is prepared, a mold of your mouth is taken. This mold is used to both design and then fabricate your custom filling. Once ready, the filling is cemented into place.
If you suspect that you have a cavity in one of your teeth, don’t ignore it until your next dental exam. Contact National Dental East Meadow right away at (516) 962-2292.