Cavities and Fillings

Cavities and Fillings

Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are areas of the hard surfaces of teeth that have become damaged and soft. They are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and improper oral hygiene. Cavities occur when the bacteria in our mouths take the sugars we eat and turn them into acid. The continuous exposure to this acid will cause damage to the teeth and will create cavities.

When patients are told they have a cavity (decayed tooth), the dentist may say the affected tooth needs a filling. The two most common known filling materials are composite (white fillings) and amalgam (silver filling). Because of their many advantages, composite resin fillings have become increasingly popular among patients. The biggest advantage is aesthetics. Composite fillings consist of a mixture of BPA-free acrylic resin and finely ground, glasslike particles that produce a tooth colored filling. This means that your restoration won’t be noticeable when you speak or smile, no matter the affected tooth. The composite resin filling material is also very durable and resistant to breakage and fractures, especially in small and mid-sized restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. On top of that, your dentist generally has to remove less natural tooth structure to prepare your tooth than it is the case with silver amalgam filling material, which also means that composite fillings are generally smaller. Lastly, composite fillings can be bonded or adhesively attached to the cavity, which allows your dentist to make a more conservative repair to the tooth.

Still, there are some facts about this type of filling you should take into consideration. While a composite filling is resistant to moderate chewing pressures, they are not as strong as a silver amalgam filling and might therefore not be the right choice for teeth that have to withstand high chewing loads. As it is the case with your natural teeth, it is important that you maintain good dental hygiene to prevent your filling from stains and discolorations. Additionally, it usually takes longer to place a composite filling than an amalgam filling since the cavity needs to be clean and dry during the entire procedure. The cost of the filling varies, but it is generally moderate and depends on the size of the fillings and the technique used by your dentist.

Advancements in dentistry have given us many different options to treat all kinds of dental issues. At Monterey Peninsula Dental Group, we want to make sure we thoroughly discuss all options with you, so we can make the right choice for your individual case.

What technology is used to create fillings?

Monterey Peninsula Dental Group is proud to offer highly resilient CEREC tooth restorations, which increase the strength of a restored tooth.



This page has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Mic Falkel, a partner at MPDG who received his Dental degree in 1987 from the University of the Pacific. Click here to follow him on Linkedin.

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