Fillings are the primary way to treat tooth decay—also known as cavities. Tooth decay is caused by the softening of the tooth enamel and dentin caused by bacteria in plaque metabolizing sugars and simple carbohydrates into acid, leading to mineral loss within the tooth’s structure. They literally dissolve holes into the tooth. Cavities should not be left untreated as they are active processes which usually lead to other problems including loss of tooth structure (that can feel like a pit in your tooth), pain, infection, pressure, and chewing issues.
Fillings stop small and routine cavities and replace the affected tooth structure that was lost during the disease process. In other words, your filled tooth will have the durability and chewing ability you can depend upon.
Whenever we can, our preference is to provide you with natural-looking tooth-colored “composite” fillings. These fillings are not only made to match your existing teeth, they’re made from a durable resin that works well when filling small to medium-sized cavities. A resin filling is a combination or “composite” of glass and special plastic. It looks as if you never had any dental work on your tooth. In other words, it looks nice and natural!
There are times when amalgam “silver-colored” fillings are more appropriate, such as when we are restoring a tooth with significant decay below the gumline. They can also be useful in extending the life of a crown or bridge when replacement cost is an issue and the recurring cavity can be accessed and removed completely.
Amalgam fillings cost less than tooth-colored fillings because they have a long history of use. They are generally more forgiving to place in extremely challenging filling areas, such as far below the gumline or deep between existing crowns.
Dr. Duffy is always engaged with the latest research on the biocompatibility of our materials and is happy to discuss relative risks and benefits of all treatments to help you make your decision.
At Peninsula Family Dentistry, we cannot stress that prevention is the best medicine to avoid cavities. We urge you to:
Eat a balanced diet and avoid sugary foods, drinks, or lozenges
Brush your teeth twice a day (for two minutes each time) with fluoride toothpaste or similar paste which enhances the natural microscopic remineralization or rebuilding of teeth
Floss daily or consider a Waterpik® for bridges or other hard-to-floss areas
See us twice a year (or more often, if needed) for regular exams and teeth cleanings.