Despite our best intentions to brush, floss, and rinse, most Americans will still deal with a cavity at some point in their adult lives. According to NIDCR, the federal government’s lead agency for scientific research on dental and oral health, “92% of adults (aged 20 to 64) have had [cavities] in their permanent teeth.”
A cavity is when your tooth partially decays, leaving a permanent opening or hole. Usually, cavities are caused by poor lifestyle choices like frequent snacking, sugary drinks (sodas, juices, etc.) and insufficient brushing or flossing. When we engage in these behaviors over time, plaque builds up, which produce acids. These acids chip away at our tooth enamel and leave holes in their wake.
When these cavities are left untreated it leaves the tooth vulnerable to more deterioration. The decay could continue eating away at the tooth, exposing inner nerves, leaving you with a severe toothache or infection.
Even if a cavity is cleaned, but not filled, it can still be at risk for further damage. Fillings are what dentists use to pack the hole left behind by cavities, ensuring the hole remains clean and protected from chipping, cracking, or breaking.
There’s a perception that fillings are scary or painful, but that is not the case. Dentistry has come a long way when it comes to securing the comfort of patients and we employ several sedation methods here at Greenspoint Dental. Nitrous Oxide or laughing gas will take the edge off of anything, then you can also have medication to further enhance your experience.
First, we clean away the decay to prevent any further damage. We use a small dental drill to do this, but don’t worry, it’s quick and painless. We then use a composite resin* to fill the hole left behind by the cavity.
This composite is very durable (it can last up to 15 years with good oral health habits) and is the same color as your teeth to ensure it is both natural-looking and functions normally. The composite molds to the exact shape of the hole left behind by the cavity and fills it completely.
We then use a bright ultraviolet light to harden the composite (called photo-polymerization) in a way that is quick, safe, and effective.
Typically, for a single filling, you can expect to be in and out in less than an hour, but multiple fillings or more decayed teeth can take longer.
Of course, we want to do everything we can to prevent cavities in the first place (brushing to remove plaque or food particles), but they do happen, and it’s important to get them taken care of right away. Delaying treatment can cause the tooth to decay even further, so don’t wait. If you think you have a cavity or have not been in for a cleaning, schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll ensure you leave with a clean, refreshed smile.
*There are other ways we can fill teeth, like Amalgam, but the composite resin is the most common due to its durability and natural look