While your teeth are the strongest substance in your body, they can still face oral health issues. Cavities are one of the most common dental issues there are. While commonly associated with children, 91% of adults in the United States have developed at least one cavity in their adult teeth. When a cavity forms, treatment is needed right away. North Atlanta Family Dentistry can treat cavities with fillings.
What Is a Cavity?
A cavity is a common dental issue that is caused by tooth decay. When acids from plaque and bacteria, as well as those from different types of foods and beverages, sit on the surfaces of your teeth for too long, they begin to erode the protective enamel layer of your teeth. This is tooth decay. The erosion leads to weak spots on your teeth. Without treatment, the decay can lead to the formation of small pits, which are cavities. Once cavities form, they cannot be reversed. Moreover, without treatment, they only continue to worsen, growing larger and deeper. Eventually, cavities can compromise the structural integrity of the affected teeth, as well as lead to painful tooth infections.
Traditional Amalgam Fillings
Traditionally, cavities have been filled using amalgam. Amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals suspended in mercury. Once cured, or hardened, they are incredibly strong and can stand up to very strong bite forces. This makes them ideal for cavities at the back of the mouth, where chewing forces are much greater. They have been in use for over 150 years and are incredibly effective.
Placing amalgam fillings is a quick and simple procedure that takes only one appointment, and less than 30 minutes to complete. We begin by cleaning the affected tooth and drilling away the decay. The cavity is shaped so that the filling can sit properly inside. Once the decay has been removed, the filling material is placed inside and smoothed. Finally, it is cured, or dried.
While effective, amalgam fillings do have a few drawbacks that make many patients shy away from them. For one, amalgam fillings are silver in color. For cavities at the front of the mouth, these types of fillings can have a significant impact on the quality of your smile. The materials used for amalgam often cause concerns as well. Patients with metal allergies may have reactions. Additionally, many patients are not comfortable with amalgam due to the mercury content.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resins provide an alternative to traditional amalgam. These fillings are made up of a mixture of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. They are naturally tooth colored, which makes them ideal for cavities affecting your front teeth. Once placed, no one will be able to tell they are present. They are also free from metals and mercury, which makes them a great solution for patients with metal allergies or concerns about mercury. They are not as strong as amalgam and can break under excessive bite pressure, but they can withstand most normal daily use.
Placing composite resin fillings requires a single appointment and about 30 minutes. We begin by cleaning the tooth and drilling away decay. Composite resin bonds with your natural tooth structure, so less of your tooth needs to be drilled away in preparation for the filling. We then apply an acid etch to the cavity, which creates a rough texture to enhance the bond between the composite resin and your tooth. The acid is washed off, and your tooth is dried. We place the filling material into the cavity and use a special light to cure it. Finally, the filling is polished smooth, and it blends in seamlessly with the rest of your tooth.
If you suspect a cavity, it is essential that you seek dental treatment right away. With a filling, we can restore the health of your tooth and prevent further damage or issues from occurring. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, call North Atlanta Family Dentistry today at (470) 387-0500.