Cavities, which are caused by tooth decay, are often associated with children. They can, however, be experienced by anyone of any age. While children tend to have a more difficult time keeping their teeth clean, adults can also miss critical areas of their mouths. At National Dental Melville, we can help to fix cavities in your teeth with fillings.
The Formation of Cavities
Your mouth is filled with oral bacteria. These bacteria feed on the food particles left over in your mouth after you eat. As they eat, they produce harmful acids. When you don’t properly brush your teeth, or you miss certain areas, the acids are left to eat away at your enamel. Over time, small pits, or cavities, form as a result of tooth decay. These pits become ideal hiding spaces for oral bacteria, and they continue to cause harm from within the tooth. Untreated, the decay continues, and the cavities grow larger. Eventually, they can develop into the inner layer of your teeth. Bacteria can then enter the tooth, which can cause a serious infection.
Amalgam (Silver) Fillings
Amalgam fillings have been in use for over 150 years to fill cavities and with good reason. The material is exceptionally strong and can withstand the excessive bite forces of the molars at the back of your mouth. Amalgam fillings consist of a mixture of metals (tin, silver, copper, nickel) suspended in liquid mercury. While their strength makes them popular for fillings, their color makes them aesthetically unpleasing. The mercury content can also be concerning for many patients.
The process for placing an amalgam filling is fairly straightforward and can be completed in a single visit. We start by administering a local anesthetic. We then use our electric handpiece to clean the decay from the cavity and prepare it for the material. The tooth is cleaned, disinfected and dried. We then placed the material in the cavity, smooth it and cure (harden) it, protecting your tooth from further damage.
Composite Resin (Tooth Colored) Fillings
Composite resin fillings are a more recent solution for cavities. It is made up of plastic, fine glass and other materials, and matches the color of your natural enamel. Because composite resin matches your teeth, it is an ideal filling material for cavities in visible teeth. It is a fairly strong material that can withstand normal biting and chewing forces.
There are two ways in which a composite resin filling can be placed. The first method is similar to how an amalgam filling is placed. The tooth is cleared of decay, cleaned and disinfected. Because composite resin bonds with your tooth structure, less of your enamel needs to be removed when shaping the cavity. Depending on the severity of the cavity, we may not need to use a local anesthetic. The material is placed into the cavity, dried, and polished for a natural feel.
The other method for placing a composite resin filling is called an indirect method. After your tooth is cleared of decay, an impression of the tooth is taken. This impression is used to design and fabricate a custom filling outside of the mouth. Once it is ready, it is cemented into place.
If you have a cavity or even suspect you have one, a filling can help to restore the health of your mouth. Call National Dental Melville at (631) 816-2277 to schedule your consultation today.