Tooth-colored fillings are one of the most popular ways to treat a cavity and restore a tooth’s prior strength following a cavity. Historically, patients with cavities were treated with silver amalgam (metal) fillings. As technology and dental science has progressed, dentists are now able to offer tooth-colored fillings (also referred to as white fillings or composite fillings.) Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies offers composite fillings to give our patients an attractive and natural-looking solution after cavities are found.
If you visit your dentist often, you may be surprised to find out you have a cavity at some point or another. Many patients brush and floss their teeth often, but still end up with a cavity at some point in their lives. Millions of patients have cavities, and it’s something that almost every person gets. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a whopping 91% of U.S. adults have had cavities at some point. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reported that cavities are so common that tooth decay is the most chronic prevalent disease among both children and adults.
You can thank sugar and your own mouth for giving you a cavity. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth often, you can also thank your oral hygiene habits. When you eat or drink, sugars in the food you consume mix with bacteria in your mouth. A lot of the bacteria in your mouth breaks down the food you eat so that it can be digested. However, some bacteria (along with that sugar) makes a sticky, acidic substance called plaque. If you have eaten recently, you can probably find some of this plaque on your teeth right now. It is a clear, sticky substance that coats the teeth, especially up by your gumline. You can even feel it with your tongue if it’s been awhile since you have brushed your teeth.
That plaque is acidic, as we mentioned. Therefore, when it sits on your teeth for too long, that acid starts to erode away your tooth enamel. Even though the teeth are strong, they become weak over time with acids on your teeth. Eventually, small cracks and fissures will open up on your tooth surface and plaque will get inside your tooth. This is where it will cause rapid decay of your tooth. With severe tooth decay, you will need root canal therapy or you could possibly lose your tooth. The key is to find your decay when it is still small and fix it before it becomes a major problem.
Tooth decay can be tricky to spot just by looking at your teeth. A dentist can use probing tools to find areas of sensitivity or you may start to feel pain or sensitivity on your own. However, tooth decay has usually progressed by the time you actually start to feel pain or other symptoms. You may know tooth decay by the term “cavity” or “dental caries”, but they all mean the same thing. It means that your tooth has eroded and is decaying where plaque has attacked it.
There are various methods to find tooth decay. At our office, we utilize modern technology to find tooth decay through laser cavity detection. While x-rays and probing tools are effective in detecting tooth decay on the surface of teeth, they are unreliable for exposing subsurface cavities. We use a Diagnodent laser, which is a pen-like wand that scans the surface of your tooth. Based on the principle of lightwave reflection, this safe and painless laser can expose hidden cavities by the way the tooth reflects light. In a healthy tooth, light will pass right through. However, if a cavity is present, the light will be absorbed to show us the exact size, shape and location of a cavity.
Once we have found a cavity, we use special tools to remove the decay and then fill the space once more. You may have heard of “composite resin fillings” before. These are another name for tooth-colored fillings. In the past, dentists used metal amalgam to fill a cavity. This made past cavities obvious and showed the world that you had dental work done. Cavities are never fun, but tooth-colored fillings can ensure that your teeth will maintain their natural appearance and strength after cavity repair.
Instead of metal, we used tooth-colored fillings that are made of ceramic and plastic compounds. These tooth-colored fillings are durable enough to withstand the pressures of grinding and biting. Tooth-colored fillings also blend into your teeth to provide you a seamless smile. They are the best way to maintain your smile when you have a cavity removed.
A beautiful, healthy smile is something that can help you have confidence in yourself on a day-to-day basis. Studies show that you appear more confident with a better smile and others will perceive you as such. A better smile also makes you appear more attractive, happy, healthy and even trustworthy. You can have a beautiful smile every day if you brush and floss your teeth. When you end up with a cavity (which sometimes happens), we can remove that decay and restore your smile once more. With tooth-colored fillings, no one ever has to know that your smile wasn’t perfect to begin with. To have your metal fillings changed for tooth-colored fillings, or to learn more, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!