When your teeth suffer from decay, your enamel wears away, forming a cavity. Cavities can collect bacteria, only making the problem worse. Unfilled cavities can lead to severe pain and destruction of the affected tooth, leaving it to fall out or need to be removed. You are also at risk for infections, which can lead not only to potential bone loss surrounding the affected tooth, but the infection entering the blood stream and spreading to other parts of your body.
To prevent these possible issues, fillings are highly recommended. At Mid Valley Family Dental, we use either an amalgam or a composite resin filling to take care of your cavities, preserving the integrity of your teeth.
Also known as silver fillings, amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of materials including zinc, silver, and tin held together by mercury. It is an extremely common filling for back teeth. Many people express concerns about having mercury in their mouths, but the amount of mercury used in amalgam fillings has been proven harmless.
While amalgam doesn’t match the color of your natural teeth, it offers a significant number of benefits. It is extremely strong, withstanding the forces for exerted on them by chewing. These fillings also last a significant amount of time, at least ten years. They are also one of the least expensive options available.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are made up of fine glass in a resin material. A tooth-colored material, these fillings are used to fill both cavities as well as chips in the front teeth. They are not quite as strong as amalgam fillings, only able to withstand moderate pressure from biting and chewing, which is why they are rarely if ever, used on back teeth. They don’t often last as long as amalgam fillings either, but their lifespan depends greatly upon how you treat them. They also tend to be more expensive than amalgam, but are cheaper than veneers if you’re seeking an aesthetic repair.
Over the past several years, the strength of composite resin has increased so that it can be used in back teeth in some instances, but it is not often recommended. The most common usage of this material in back teeth is if you have an allergy to any of the metals used in the amalgam fillings.
Amalgam fillings often require a local anesthetic, as drilling is required to clear out any decay that sits within the cavity. The material is placed in the cavity and the excess removed and the surface smoothed.
There are two processes for composite resin fillings. The first is the direct method, in which the material is applied to the dry tooth and hardened with a blue light. The second is the indirect method. This procedure requires two visits. On the first visit, the tooth is prepared and requires less drilling than amalgam, and an impression taken. The impression is sent to a lab for the filling to be fabricated. During your second visit, the filling is cemented into the prepared cavity.
While fillings are effective at protecting the interior of your teeth from the harm done by decay and stops the damage from getting worse, it is still better to prevent cavities from happening in the first place. The best way to do this is by maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen. This includes:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day to rid the surface of plaque and left over food particles that bacteria love to feed on.
- Flossing daily cleans up the hard to reach places between your teeth to get rid of buildup.
- Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash to kill any remaining bacteria.
It is also important that you visit the office at least twice a year for a cleaning and thorough exam. During the exam, your fillings will be checked to make sure they aren’t loose, broken or missing. Should he find anything wrong, the dentist will fix the problem. If your filling comes out while you are at home, or something doesn’t feel right, contact the office to schedule an appointment.
Fillings are a quick, effective way to stop cavities from destroying your teeth. If you notice pain or sensitivity in your tooth that just won’t go away, call Mid Valley Family Dental. We can determine the root of the problem and give you the best treatment possible.