Your mouth is full of bacteria. When these bacteria feed on sugars and other leftover food particles that are stuck on your teeth, they produce harmful acids that start to erode the enamel, a process known as tooth decay. Enough erosion leads to cavities, in which more bacteria can hide, causing even more damage.
At Downtown Dental Care, Dr. Christianson takes care of your cavities, destroying the bacteria that lie within and sealing them to prevent further damages.
Types of Fillings
There are two common materials that are used for fillings: amalgam and composite resin. Amalgam fillings are made up of several different elements - zinc, tin, silver, and copper - mixed with mercury. This particular type of filling is silver in color, which means it is highly visible in your teeth, and therefore a popular filling for back teeth. The fact that amalgam fillings contain mercury can be unnerving, but the amount used is indeed safe.
Amalgam has numerous benefits, its main one being that it is incredibly strong, which makes it perfect for the teeth in the rear of your jaw, where the most pressure is exerted. They have a long lifespan and are the least expensive option for a filling.
Composite resin is made up of finely ground glass in a resin material. This material is popular because it matches the color of your natural teeth, which means that it is ideal for cavities in the visible portions of your teeth. This material is also frequently used to fill chips and cracks. Composite resin lacks the same strength that amalgam has, but it can still withstand normal biting and chewing forces. They don't last as long as amalgam (although their lifespan really depends upon how you treat them), and they tend to cost more, but composite resin offers a great alternative to those who have allergies to metal or want a less expensive fix than veneers.
There are other, less common, materials used for fillings as well. These materials include gold, porcelain, and plastic materials.
Getting Your Filling
The process for getting a filling is a simple one, and it is done in a single visit. For amalgam fillings, a local anesthetic is administered (if necessary), the decay is cleared away using a drill and the cavity is cleaned and disinfected. The amalgam is then packed into the cavity and dried with a special blue light, after which is polished smooth.
There are two processes for composite resin fillings. They both start out similar to the process of amalgam fillings. The first method involves using an acidic gel to create a rough surface for the material to adhere before drying it with a blue light and polishing it. The second method, also known as the indirect method, employs the use of our CEREC technology. After the cavity is cleaned and disinfected, a digital impression of the tooth is made. The technology then creates a custom filling that is cemented in place. This method requires less drilling and the filling fits perfectly into the cavity.
Stop Cavities Before They Start
Fillings are an excellent option to stop the spread of tooth decay. However, they are not a substitute for cavity prevention. It is still important that you brush and floss every day and visit the office regularly for exams and cleanings.
If your teeth have suffered the effects of tooth decay, don't hesitate. Give us a call today at (503) 420-7600!