Cavities can be caused by harmful bacteria (dental caries), acidic/dry mouth conditions, occlusal issues, or a combination of these. Cavities often represent a site of vulnerability and active infection on the tooth. Early detection and prevention are key. If left untreated, cavities can lead to unsightly tooth decay, pain, and/or loss of teeth. Cavities usually need to be removed and restored using fillings to ensure they do not grow deeper or wider.
What are dental fillings?
When cavities are sealed with a putty-like material, the procedure is called a filling. Dental fillings are performed to help ensure the tooth is restored to its ideal contour, and functionality and to improve structural integrity. In earlier dental times, fillings were primarily made from metals. Gold and Silver/Amalgam are the most common. These metal fillings do have some positive qualities (such as strength and longevity), but they also have several drawbacks. Technology is always changing, and dentistry is no different. Modern filling materials can be tooth-colored, esthetic, and actually bond to the tooth. Because of these material properties, we usually recommend composite dental fillings.
How are fillings done?
The dentist will visually and radiographically screen the mouth to check for cavities. If any decay is detected, the patient will be scheduled for a tooth filling. During this scheduled appointment, the decay will be removed from the tooth, leaving a void or “cavity.” The tooth surface is then prepared with a primer and a bond material. Afterward, the void is filled with a composite shade that best matches the tooth. Once shaped accordingly, the filling will be hardened and polished.