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Cavities are an oral health issue that affects millions of individuals of all different ages. They occur when acids sit on the surfaces of your teeth for too long, weakening your tooth enamel. These acids are often from plaque and oral bacteria, although acids from foods and beverages can also contribute. The weak spots on your teeth, known as decay, eventually see the formation of cavities or small pits. Without treatment, cavities continue to grow larger and deeper, compromising the structural integrity and the health of the affected tooth. At Boones Landing Dental Center, we restore teeth affected by cavities, preventing serious issues from occurring, with fillings.
Amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years to treat cavities. This material is well-known for its incredible strength. Amalgam can stand up to very strong bite forces and not break. The material is made up of a mixture of metals that are suspended in liquid mercury. Metals used include nickel, silver, tin, and copper. Because of their strength, amalgam fillings are often used for cavities in the back of their mouth, where chewing forces are greater.
Placing an amalgam filling takes only one visit and can usually be completed in less than 30 minutes. First, the tooth is cleaned, and the decay is drilled away. The cavity is shaped so that the filling can sit properly inside. Next, the amalgam material is placed in the tooth and smoothed. Finally, the material is cured, or hardened, providing immediate protection.
While amalgam fillings are very strong, they do have a few significant disadvantages. First, they are silver in color, so they stand out against the tooth. The metals can cause issues for those with allergies. Additionally, the mercury content can raise concerns for many patients.
Composite fillings were developed as an alternative to traditional amalgam. Composite fillings use a composite resin material, made up of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. It is a tooth-colored filling material that is both metal-free as well as mercury-free. While not as strong as amalgam, they can withstand most normal use in teeth toward the front of the mouth, where the bite forces are not as great. They are also ideal for visible teeth because they perfectly match the color of your natural teeth.
Placing composite fillings is a fairly simple procedure that, like amalgam, take one visit and about 30 minutes of your time. After the tooth is cleaned, the decay is drilled away. Composite resin bonds to your natural tooth structure, unlike amalgam, so less of your tooth needs to be drilled away. Next, an acid etch is applied to the cavity to create a rough texture that will enhance the bond. After the acid is washed off, the tooth is dried. The composite resin material is placed into the cavity and cured. Finally, the material is polished to a smooth, natural finish.
How Can I Prevent Cavities from Forming?
While cavities can be treated, it is important to take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It is important that you brush for at least two minutes every time and make sure that you cover all surfaces of your teeth. You should also floss at least once a day. In addition to daily care at home, regular dental cleanings and exams are crucial. These should be done at least twice a year. During your visits, we not only clean all surfaces of your teeth, but we can also provide you with additional protective measures such as fluoride and sealants.
Fillings help to stop cavities in their tracks, restoring their health and their strength. Call Boones Landing Dental Center at (503) 682-3743 today for more information.