Modern dental procedures have greatly improved how people are able to preserve damaged teeth. One of the most common types of damage that can happen to any tooth is a cavity. In previous generations, large cavities were almost always a sign that a person would eventually lose a tooth. If they were lucky, a dentist could cap it with an extremely expensive crown. This process was, at best, considered temporary.
This scenario is definitely not true today. The technology and precision tools that modern dentists use create an incredible rate of tooth-saving success. Cavities are spotted earlier, and the options for filling them are diverse.
What is a Cavity?
When the enamel of a tooth is compromised in some way, the tooth is in danger of accelerated decay. Live bacteria and caustic food compounds begin to literally eat the tooth. This causes a blackening of the enamel, which is a type of rot. If left untreated, this rot will expand into the center of the tooth. Deep cavities can cause a weakening of the entire tooth, tooth death, and extreme pain. Cavities are also unsightly, and they are harbors where harmful bacteria flourish.
When a dentist inspects the surfaces of individual teeth during a routine cleaning, they pinpoint all of the places where cavities are present. Sometimes, a tooth has a natural stain that resembles a cavity. These stains can be caused by permanent appliances like bridges. Stains can be removed with no grinding on the tooth surface. When a true cavity is identified however, the dentist must get rid of it. This is a simple and quick process depending on the size of the cavity.
The Procedure for Filling Cavities
Cavities are rarely considered emergency situations. They form and grow over long periods of time. It is always advantageous for all people to have cavities filled when a dentist spots them. Much more extensive dental treatments will be needed if people choose to ignore them. A tiny cavity can be filled with little effort. A larger cavity can start a cascade of other problems including infections.
The first step in filling a cavity is numbing the mouth. This is usually done with a compound that numbs the gums and palate, and a deeper needle injection around the tooth. Some people prefer to be completely sedated during this type of procedure instead. Many of the best dentist Calgary, Houston, Miami, and all over the world now offer sedation to accommodate individual needs.
With the aid of a dental assistant, the dentist will dry the tooth, and place saliva pads in the mouth. Creating a filling is a little like cutting a gem to fit in a piece of jewelry. The area must be prepared carefully. When the area is ready, the dentist will begin to carve away the cavity. Many different tools will be used including hand-held drills, brushes, picks, and scouring strips. During this step, the patient can experience things like odd smells and tastes. This is caused by the cavity material being micronized during drilling. A great dentist will keep you informed about the process if he notices a degree of worry on your face. The assistant will also make every effort to keep your throat and sinuses cleared to help with normal breathing and tongue activity.
When the cavity has been cleared, the dentist will clean and dry the area again. He will also make sure that your mouth is still numb. Then, an etching process happens. This means that the newly drilled area will be roughened, and certain bonding agents will be applied. Differing types of fillings like bonding composites, gold, silver, glass ionomer, and porcelain require various surface preparations. These fillings are chosen to match the type of damage that a cavity caused. They are also chosen according to the placement in the mouth. A cavity on a back molar, for instance, must have a very strong filling because it will have to endure incredible bite pressures.
When the filling is inlaid, the bonding will need to be cured. This is done with a curing light. The light activates the bonding polymers, and it works almost instantly. When this is complete, the dentist will polish the filling, and he will make sure it works with your natural biting pattern. Slight surface adjustments could be needed.
After a Filling Procedure
When a person receives a filling, the dentist will provide information about its care. This includes giving the patient an analysis about their propensity for developing other cavities. Though the filling has completely replaced a decayed portion of a tooth, every effort should be made to preserve it. The patient will learn about how to chew certain foods, how to brush correctly, and how to prevent future bacterial attacks. A second dental exam could also be needed in a few weeks to check the filling’s integrity, or to address mouth discomfort issues.
The central thing to remember when your dentist indicates the need for a cavity filling is that the procedure is simple, routine, and reliable. Having regular dental cleanings is the best way to spot cavities when they are small. Filling them immediately prevents complicated future dental problems, and minimizes expenses.