Dental Tips Blog


How Fillings Fix Cavities

Posted in Fillings

Cavities are caused by bacteria, which can deeply affect teeth. Is the fix really as simple as plugging an empty hole in the tooth with a filling?

The Drill-and-Fill Technique

First of all, dental x-rays are essential to helping your dentist plan treatment. He or she has to know in advance how big the cavity is. Without an x-ray, your dentist may as well try placing a filling blindfolded!

Your dentist makes sure that every bit of tooth infected with the cavity bacteria is removed. The prepared hole is carefully shaped to hold a filling. Next, a liner is usually placed to give the filling a snug fit. Finally, the filling material is mixed and set in place.

Avoid Future Cavities

Just because it has a filling doesn’t mean that a tooth is not invincible to cavities! You’ll have to be even more careful about keeping that tooth clean. Bacteria love to hang out around the edges of fillings.

You can prevent getting another cavity by keeping up with brushing, flossing, and fluoride use.

When More Than a Filling is Needed

Depending on where a cavity forms on a tooth and how large it is, your dentist will recommend different treatment. If tooth decay reaches the nerve chamber of the tooth, a root canal is usually necessary. If large pieces of a tooth are lost to cavities, then a crown is best for holding your tooth together. An indirect filling (onlay or inlay) is a midrange option when the cavity is too large for a filling but not big enough for a crown.

Think you have a tooth that needs a filling? Contact your dentist to schedule an exam.

Posted on behalf of:
Smiles by Seese
610 Jetton St #250
Davidson, NC 28036
(704) 895-5095


How Are Dental Fillings Placed?

Posted in Fillings

Is it as simple as “drill-and-fill?” What makes dental fillings so important? These restorations have been used for years to repair damage from cavities. The concept is timeless, but the technique and materials used are constantly evolving.

Metal versus White Fillings

Metal fillings are still used in dentistry, but there has been a trend shift that favors using tooth-colored materials. These filling types obviously differ in appearance, but they are also placed in different ways.

Metal, or amalgam, restorations do not naturally bond with teeth. They have to be physically anchored into place. This means that a little more tooth structure has to be trimmed away to create a preparation that locks the finished filling in place.

White (composite) fillings do bond chemically with teeth. This makes the tooth preparation much more conservative.

Planning a Restoration

Before placing a filling, your dentist will discuss with you exactly what your tooth needs and what your options are. X-rays are essential for treatment planning. X-ray images can reveal how extensive tooth decay is.

Careful Placement

At your filling appointment, you will be numbed up so that you don’t feel a thing. After that, the general steps are as follows:

  • The tooth is isolated with special bands
  • Decayed tooth structure (the cavity) is drilled away
  • The tooth is prepared to make sure all cavity is gone
  • Special “primers” and liners may be placed
  • Filling material is mixed and carefully shaped into the tooth
  • A curing light is used to set white fillings
  • Dentist checks the smoothness of the filling for a secure fit

A single filling usually doesn’t take long, at all. Dental fillings are smile-saving, cavity-fighting superheroes! Learn more about the restorative dental options available in your area by visiting your local dentist.

Posted on behalf of:
Seven Hills Dentistry
1305 Cedarcrest Rd. #115
Dallas, GA 30132
(678) 257-7177


Why You Shouldn’t Wait for That Filling

Posted in Fillings

It may not make sense to have a filling done when your tooth doesn’t bother you whatsoever, and a lot of people are hesitant to have a tooth “fixed” when they feel like there is nothing wrong with it, or there is no pain. Unfortunately, putting that dental filling off will only make things worse in almost every circumstance.

Waiting to have a filling performed means that existing tooth decay continues to erode the tooth, burrowing further into the enamel day by day.  It can even spread to adjacent teeth in the mouth, since live bacteria cause tooth decay. Before you know it, you have a toothache. When your dentist checks the tooth, it turns out you don’t need a filling anymore; now you need a root canal. This treatment can take longer to complete, and will make a difference in the budget you had planned to get the tooth repaired.

Treating cavities while they are small, or changing out old dental fillings as soon as they begin to show signs of failure means that precious tooth enamel can be preserved. Less tooth alteration is needed, and more healthy enamel is kept in place. What this means is that teeth are more structurally sound over time, treatment is less invasive, and the cost of care is kept lower over the course of your lifetime.

Don’t wait until your tooth hurts before you have it fixed. Decay isn’t something that just goes away, it has to be removed to prevent it from spreading. Ask your dentist about minimally invasive tooth colored fillings as a way to preserve your teeth as well as improve your smile.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



How are Cavities Treated?

Posted in Fillings

Well it finally happened.  You just had your 6 month dental check up and teeth cleaning and the dentist found a cavity, which is the first one for you!  A follow up appointment has been scheduled in a couple of weeks, but you are slightly nervous, as you do not know what to expect.

On the day of the appointment, you will arrive at the office just like it was any other dental visit and you will be taken back to exam / treatment room, where you will sit back in the dental chair.  The dentist will then apply a numbing gel on the gums to numb the surface, which makes the actual injection of local aesthetic painless.

Once the dentist is confident that the area is numb, they will use a drill to remove the tooth decay.  Once the area is prepped to receive the filling material, the dentist will make sure the area is completely dry, as any moisture can impact the successful bonding of the material to the tooth.  The area is then filled and in the case of bonded fillings, a special light is used to cure or harden the composite material.

The final step is to make sure that the dental filling material is not negatively impacting the patient’s bite, with the dentist performing adjustments to the filling until everything is perfect.  In most cases, the patient is in and out of the dentist chair in less than 30 minutes and pain free the entire time!

Posted on behalf of Linda King DDS



How Long Can You Wait to Fill a Cavity?

Posted in Fillings

Cavities come in all shapes and sizes. Some patients come to the dentist specifically for the treatment of pain associated with a cavity, while other people are unaware that any cavities exist until their diagnosed using x-rays or found during an exam. Dental decay can spread very quickly, eroding through the tooth enamel and into the inner portion of the tooth known as the dentin. Dentin is less dense than enamel and decays at a faster rate. Once decay has worked through the dentin, then the nerve of the tooth becomes infected with bacteria and causes abscesses, resulting in the need for root canal therapy.

It’s easy to choose to have a cavity repaired when the tooth hurts, or the decay causes visible signs that are aesthetically displeasing, such as black areas on the teeth. A large portion of small cavities have no symptoms at all, and won’t be seen in the mouth until the decay is so severe that the tooth risks being lost for good. Many patients ask how long these small cavities can wait before having the tooth restored.

While it may not be your first choice, the best step is to fill the cavity as soon as possible. Even if the tooth doesn’t hurt, decay can spread to adjacent teeth and destroy a tooth sooner than you would think. By treating cavities as early as possible, fillings are smaller and healthier tooth structure can be maintained. Treatment is faster, more affordable, and more comfortable for the patient when it is performed in the early stages of a cavity. See your Marietta dentist regularly to help prevent tooth decay and catch it before it becomes a problem later on.

Posted on behalf of Marietta Family Dental Care, P.C.



Air Abrasion Dentistry

Posted in Fillings

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to avoid the annoying whine of the drill when going to the dentist?  The good news is that now there is a way to do this.

This new technique is called air abrasion, and is used to help resurface and clean out smaller cavities in a person’s mouth. Air abrasion uses a stream of high-powered air to help clean and reshape teeth in preparation for placement of dental fillings, and is ideal for someone who is afraid of the dentist, who does not like the sound of the drill, or who is sensitive to sounds. Air abrasion is quieter, reducing anxiety in many patients, and is ideal for smaller cavities.

Unfortunately, air abrasion can only be used for small cavities. It cannot be used for larger cavities, or the resurfacing of a tooth that is required before a crown or cap is placed. Air abrasion is also not suitable for cavities that appear between the teeth, as the air stream is usually not small enough to provide exactness.

If you have been putting off going to the dentist because the noise or environment is a bit frightening to you, or causes you anxiety, talk to your dentist about air abrasion. You may be an ideal candidate for this procedure.

If you are not a candidate for air abrasion, your dentist will provide other options for you to have a pleasant experience. Never put off going to the dentist because of fear or anxiety.  Look for a dentist that specializes in gentle dentistry, as they know how to treat the anxiety that is common in all adults at the dentist.  After all, your teeth need to last a lifetime.  Take the steps today to make sure that they will last!


Silver Fillings

Posted in Fillings

Silver fillings, or amalgam fillings are the silver-colored restorations that are placed in areas of larger decay or where tooth colored fillings are not appropriate. Because of their unique design, silver fillings can be placed in areas of small or even large decay. They may also be used to patch a tooth that has had root canal therapy before a permanent crown can be placed on the tooth.

Amalgam fillings are a slightly more economical choice compared to other types of dental treatments. The fillings are made up of an alloy of different metals including silver, copper and tin. The compound is mixed immediately before placement and is shaped into the area in need of repair, where it quickly solidifies after being placed by the dentist.

The age of some silver dental fillings can last upward to over 20 years. Adults that grew up having extensive dental work typically have silver fillings in their back teeth. As these fillings wear out and are in need of re-treatment, it is an option to replace smaller silver fillings with tooth colored ones. If the filling is larger, it will need to be replaced with another silver filling or a crown. Silver fillings are not typically used on the front teeth, as they are not an aesthetic treatment option.

Silver fillings are becoming less common as tooth colored restorative materials improve, but they are still a very viable treatment option especially for teeth that do not show when you talk or smile. They wear very well and fit in areas that aren’t appropriate for other types of restorations, allowing you to treat larger areas of decay with a filling rather than go directly to a larger restoration such as a crown.


Types of Cavities

Posted in Fillings

Cavities or dental caries are a relatively common development in the life cycle of human teeth. These holes or eroded areas in the surface of the teeth occur when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth triggers acidic processes that cause the tooth’s enamel layer to decay. Without treatment, the decay may progress to the dentine layer of the tooth and eventually to the pulp chamber, exposing the sensitive nerves and blood vessels inside the teeth. Without the protective outer layer, food and bacteria can enter the teeth making it vulnerable to infection. Also, by depleting the tooth structure, cavities undermine tooth strength, making the affected teeth prone to fractures.

Dental cavities can form on any part of a tooth depending on where the acid attacks. Dental cavities are classified as follows.

1)      Root cavities

Cavities that form below the gum line, on the surface of the teeth roots, are known as root cavities. This is the least common type of dental decay, occurring mostly in people with receding gums, for example, elderly people.

2)      Pit and fissure cavities

Pit and fissure cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. These cavities form on the grooves and valleys (the pits and fissures) that characterize the top surfaces of the molars (the back teeth). Pit and fissure cavities are the most common type of dental decay. They are also usually the most severe and painful.

3)      Smooth surface cavities

Cavities that form between the teeth, or on the flat inner or outer surface of the teeth, are called smooth surface cavities. In the beginning, these cavities appear as white, chalky spots on the flat surfaces of the teeth, rather than as holes in the teeth; because of this, many people do not realize they have a cavity. Smooth surface cavities are considered the least threatening type of cavity since they grow more slowly than other types of cavities and can be reversed with fluoride therapy.

Regardless of the type, cavities require immediate treatment since they can have potentially serious, even life-threatening consequences when left untreated. A dental filling, which involves closing up the hole in the tooth, or root canal therapy to remove damaged pulp, can curb the escalating harmful effects of dental cavities.

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