Cavities, which are caused by the oral bacteria in your mouth, are commonly associated with children. However, children are not the only ones at risk. Anyone of any age can develop cavities, even those who brush and floss daily. At National Dental Williston Park, we can restore the health of your teeth with fillings.
How Cavities Form
Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria live on the food particles that linger in your mouth. As they eat, they produce acids, which attack your enamel. When you miss certain areas of your mouth while brushing, or ignore your oral hygiene routine altogether, oral bacteria can quickly build up. The acids, which can often easily be removed with regular brushing, are given the opportunity they need to destroy your enamel. Small pits called cavities form. Oral bacteria hide out in these cavities, and the damage only continues to grow. The longer cavities go untreated, the larger the cavities become, eventually making their way into the inner layer of the teeth. The bacteria can enter the interior of the tooth, which can lead to a painful infection.
Amalgam fillings have been in use for over 150 years. They consist of metals – silver, copper, tin, and nickel – suspended in liquid mercury. When hardened, amalgam fillings are exceptionally strong and can withstand even the strongest bite forces. This makes them ideal for cavities in the very back teeth. While they are extremely strong, amalgam fillings do have a few major drawbacks. The color of amalgam fillings (silver) makes them unappealing, especially for teeth that are more toward the front of your mouth. The mercury content also deters many dental patients, even though the content has been proven safe.
The process for amalgam fillings is simple and can be completed in a single visit. First, we start by clearing out the decay from the cavity. We then shape the cavity to effectively accommodate the filling. We then clean the tooth and dry it. Next, we place the material into the tooth and smooth it. Finally, it is hardened in the cavity, protecting from further damage.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are a more recent option. Their use began in the 1960s. Composite resin is made up of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. Composite resin is not as strong as amalgam, so it is not often the preferred choice for teeth at the back of your mouth. It can, however, withstand normal biting and chewing forces. The major advantage to composite resin fillings is that they blend in with the color of your enamel, making them perfect for teeth toward the front of your mouth.
There are two ways to apply composite resin fillings. The first method, the direct method, is done similarly to amalgam fillings. After we clean the cavity and prepare it, we place the material into the tooth and harden it with a special light. The hardened material is then polished smooth.
The other method for composite resin fillings is known as an indirect method. After the tooth is cleaned and prepared, we take an impression of the tooth. The impression is sent to our lab, where the filling is created. Once it is ready, we then cement the custom designed filling into the cavity, and your tooth is protected from new bacterial invasion.
If you suspect a cavity in your tooth, a filling is required to restore the health to the affected tooth. To schedule an appointment, call National Dental Williston Park today at (516) 686-9780.