Cavity and Fillings – Options to Explore

A hard material covering known as enamel protects our tooth and when acid produced by specific bacteria destroys the enamel along with the underlying layer called dentin then it leads to tooth decay, which is also referred to as cavities.

The obvious symptoms of cavity include toothache, hypersensitivity, pain while chewing food and difficulty in drinking cold or hot food or drinks. Your local dentist will be the best person to tell you the exact cause of your cavity after a through diagnosis. However, one obvious cause is the buildup of dental plaque, a type sticky film on your tooth. The bacteria in the plaque release acids which can dissolve the mineral on the enamel. Thus, you lose the protective layer of your teeth, which when left untreated can lead to tooth decay or cavity.

Tooth Cavity

In case your teeth are still salvageable, your local dentist would probably not suggest surgical extractions of the teeth.  Instead there is an alternate treatment available in the form of filling, which can help to recover the tooth damage and restore its original shape and function. Filling is a very effective technique of cleaning up the decayed matter from your tooth and then filling it with an artificial material.

How does filling stop tooth decay?

Cavities and fillings occur quite frequently though the number of cases has come down in the past few years because people are aware of the importance of oral hygiene. Fillings are considered to be highly effective in dealing with the problem of tooth decay as the spaces in the teeth are closed. There are a variety of material used for filling, which includes porcelain, gold, amalgam (alloy of silver, mercury, copper, zinc and tin) and composite resin.

What filling should I choose?

There isn’t a single filling that suits everyone the most appropriate filling for your tooth has to be decided by your local dentist. Your dentist is the right person to determine the extent of damage and repair needed. Diagnosis of the cavities is followed by a filling plan wherein the dentist finds out if you are allergic to specific material or not or where exactly you will need the filling. Cost considerations are also taken into account while finalizing the type of material to be used for the filling job.

Here are the different filling materials usually used by dentists:

Amalgam

Amalgam is one of the most popular and also the oldest fillings used for treating cavities. The FDA officially mentions that amalgam has been used for over 150 years as a filling material in the US. Amalgam is a mixture of different metals that typically consist of 50% mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc. There are some obvious advantages of choosing this filling material ahead of others and the low cost of the material is the topmost. On top of this material is also very strong and lasts for a long time.

However, there are some drawbacks of this material as well and it starts with the silver color which obviously turns darker with time. If you have amalgam filling then the moment you open your mouth, you shinning silver filling will be easily visible. Another big risk with amalgam is that it has a very high content of mercury (though FDA considers it to be safe for people above the age of 6 years), which is a big turn off for many.

Composite

The composite tooth filling is usually made of acrylic resin and powdered glass and it offers some plausible advantages over the amalgam filling. The color of the composite tooth filling can be shaded so as to match the tooth’s color, which obviously makes it less visible. We all desire to have a natural smile and composite fillings are a great way to achieve it.

However, composite filling too come with its set of advantages. To start with amalgam is less durable when compared to the other metal mix like the amalgam. Thus, it doesn’t last for a very long time and is best for smaller filling. It is best for the teeth that doesn’t experience too much of pressure while chewing.

Gold

One of the exotic and durable dental fillings is the gold filling that can stay effective for at least two decades. Gold is a pricey issue and you will have to consider your budget before opting for such an expensive material. Even though gold is the most durable dental filling but it is also one of the most expensive. You will have to spend a little more time at the dentist’s clinics to get a gold filling.

Porcelain

Porcelain fillings fall in the group of indirect filling just like their golden counterpart. You’ll be able to get porcelain filling if you are ready to spend more on your filling job and you will also have to invest a lot of time visiting the dentist’s clinic. Porcelain is different from gold filling in one respect – they are a little more fragile than gold. However, porcelain fillings look similar to your original teeth and it will be difficult for people around you to tell that you had a porcelain feeling.

Filling procedure

The filling procedure involves several steps and often takes more than one sitting with your local dentist to get the job completely done. Here is what you will have to go through for dental filling:

Local anesthesia is usually administered at the start of the feeling procedure where a local anesthesia is used to numb the tooth’s surrounding area. Next your local dentist will remove the decayed parts of the tooth by drilling and clearing with a chemical. Next, he will be shaping the tooth so that it’s ready for the filling. Your local dentist will also etch the tooth for better bonding and also use the resin to create a strong layer in your tooth. Once the filling is completed, your dentist shall be polishing to shine your tooth.