The most common dental problem faced by both children and adults alike is dental decay. Also known as dental caries, dental tooth decay is a lesion formed inside the tooth structure - any part of the tooth or on the exposed root. Tooth decay most commonly occurs on the top or bottom (occlusal) surfaces of the back (posterior) teeth inside the crevices of the tooth. Mesial and distal (interproximal) decay is also common and occurs between the teeth.
Ways to prevent decay
The best ways to prevent tooth decay are as follows:
- Following a proper oral care routine - brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
- Drink fluoride water.
- A clinical method to prevent occlusal decay from formation is by using dental sealants. It is placed at your dentist's office in the permanent tooth on the occlusal surface before any sign of decay is present.
Treating tooth cavity using dental fillings
Dental fillings made from dental-grade ceramic or composite resin are placed in cavities to restore the strength, shape, aesthetics, and functionality of the teeth. Dental fillings are a type of restoration used to repair areas of the tooth damaged by cavities and tooth decay. If left untreated, cavities can worsen and lead to periodontal (gum) disease and tooth pain. Fillings, once placed, can restore the shape, strength, and appearance of the natural tooth. If the tooth decay is small and doesn't extend over to a large surface, a composite filling can be the best option to restore the tooth.
What materials are used for fillings?
Various materials are used for fillings, and it depends on the size and location of the tooth damage and the desired outcome.
The materials used for dental fillings are as follows:
- Composite fillings
Composite resin is mostly preferred as fillings, especially in highly visible areas of the mouth, as they can be customized to match the color of your natural tooth.
Advantages of dental fillings
- Dental fillings stop the progression of decay by repairing a damaged tooth.
- Fillings help fix small areas of decay and prevent further deterioration by providing a barrier against harmful bacteria.
- While replacing the damaged portion of a tooth using dental fillings, they preserve most of the tooth structure.
- Placing a dental filling can be done during a single visit to the dentist's office.
- Placing dental fillings are less costly than dental crowns.
- Fillings usually last for several years if taken care of properly.
The Filling Process
The dental filling process usually involves the following steps:
- The area around the tooth is numbed up with local anesthesia or a shot in the gums or inside of the cheek.
- Once the area is numb, a drill or laser will be used to remove the tooth's damaged areas.
- The dentist will clean the area with a gel and will apply a filling material to fill the tooth.
- Adhesives, along with composite material, will be placed on top of the filled tooth to protect and seal it.
- The dentist will use a bonding light to harden the material.
- The rough edges, if any, will be removed, and the tooth will be polished.