What is a filling?
A filling is a specially formulated material that is used to “fill in” the areas of a tooth that have been damaged by a cavity (decay). Currently most teeth are filled with a white resin material called composite. A material called amalgam (silver filling) has been used for many years as well.
How do cavities form?
A cavity is a result of bacteria chewing a hole in the tooth. This bacteria is always present in the mouth but needs acid and sugar to form cavities (decay). This bacteria releases a sticky glue-like substance that enables it to adhere to your teeth. We call this mix of bacteria and sticky glue plaque. The more plaque you have the more bacteria are present and actively chewing through your teeth. Therefore, those that have a great deal of plaque are more prone to cavities (also known as decay).
If I have a cavity, can it always be treated with a filling?
You must have a certain amount of natural tooth structure remaining for a tooth to receive a filling. In some cases, a tooth will be missing a large amount of the chewing surface or missing a corner either before or after a cavity is removed. In those cases, some teeth may need a crown (dental cap) or other type of dental treatment. Dr. Morgan will discuss what he anticipates would be the best type of restoration for your tooth and we will educate you during your dental treatment so you can make an informed decisions about your dental health.
I have a cavity. How long can I wait to get my filling?
You should always repair a cavity as soon as possible. As time passes, additional sugar and acid are introduced in the form of food and drink making the cavity larger. Bigger cavities are more traumatic to your tooth. As decay chews closer to your nerve the more likely a root canal and crown will be needed. Large cavities make your tooth weaker and more sensitive. In plain words, bigger cavities hurt more.
How long will my filling last?
Once a tooth has had a cavity repaired, it is weaker than it was before the cavity developed. In addition, the mouth is a harsh environment. Teeth are subject to acid, heat, cold, bacteria, and 100% humidity for 24 hours per day 7 days a week. No filling or crown will last a lifetime for this reason. However, steps can be taken to lessen your cavity risk. The most important step is to practice excellent oral hygiene. This includes brushing correctly for 2 minutes twice a day, flossing daily, use of fluoride, and regular dental exams and cleanings.