We here at Elite Dental of Natick constantly strive to prevent dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease before they occur. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. This is why we also specialize in several restorative treatments designed to get your smile back on track. If we diagnose you with a cavity, for instance, we may suggest a dental filling to restore the structure and appearance of the damaged tooth.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities, or tooth decay, occur when the enamel layer deteriorates due to harmful bacteria found in plaque. Plaque is the thin, sticky biofilm that constantly forms on and around our teeth. If tooth decay is left untreated, the deterioration can reach the innermost parts of a tooth, causing some significant complications for your oral health.
The bacteria in plaque feeds off the simple carbohydrates, sugars, and starches that we consume on a daily basis. As they feed, they produce acids that attack the enamel and cause tooth decay. A healthy diet, along with regular brushing and flossing, is the best way to reduce plaque buildup and prevent cavities.
Types of Fillings
These days, there are several restorative materials that can be used to fill a cavity. However, the two most common types of fillings consist of either composite resin or amalgam (silver). The type of filling we recommend is dictated by the size and location of the cavity, as well as your personal preference.
Composite resin is most suitable for small to moderately-sized cavities found in the visible portion of your smile. This putty-like material can be color-matched to the existing shade of your enamel, effectively hiding your restoration. Due to the aesthetic advantages of composite resin, this type of material is now the most popular choice for dental fillings.
Despite their indiscreet appearance, amalgam fillings, which are made from a mixture of metals, are still commonplace in modern dentistry. This time-tested material provides a level of durability that cannot be matched by composite resin, making it the ideal choice for larger cavities found in the posterior (back) teeth. These areas require a material that can withstand the strongest forces of your bite. Luckily, these fillings are often hidden from view, making cosmetics less of an issue.
The procedures for composite and amalgam fillings follow the same basic steps with a few minor differences. Both procedures begin with the application of local anesthetic, which numbs the area and eliminates discomfort. We also offer several sedation methods for patients that have fears or anxieties associated with dental work.
Next, we will prepare the tooth in question by removing decayed tooth material and reshaping the cavity. Amalgam typically requires a more extensive reshaping, which helps us properly situate the filling. Composite fillings bond directly to the enamel, allowing us to preserve more healthy tooth structure.
Once the cavity has been cleaned and reshaped, we can place the filling material. Composite fillings are placed in layers. After each layer is placed, we use an ultraviolet curing light to harden the composite and expedite the bonding process. Silver fillings are simply molded to fit the shape of your cavity.
If you are receiving a tooth-colored filling, we finish the procedure by removing any excess composite. We will also polish the material until it matches the sheen of your enamel. Finally, we will check to ensure your filling is properly fit, preventing any future complications with your bite.
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
If you would like to learn more about our restorative treatments, our team is happy to help! Call (508) 319-9339 to schedule your appointment today!