By Wilmington Dental Associates
August 17, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Fillings  

CavityDental decay - it's a big enemy of tooth enamel. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 25 percent of the adult population between the ages of 25 and 44 have cavities that have not been filled.

What stops people from getting treatment? Sometimes it's just lack of knowledge about how serious tooth decay is and how many treatment options are available today to make teeth strong and healthy.

What is a Cavity?

A cavity occurs when oral bacteria, living in plaque and tartar, secrete acid on tooth enamel. The acid eventually eats through the surface and down into the inner tooth structure. This inner layer is the softer dentin and innervated and vascularized pulp. When decay goes deep into tooth structure, an infection often results, causing pain, swelling and if untreated, tooth loss.

So, it's important to catch cavities while they are still small. That's why Michael Lenz DMD, Anthony Vattilana DDS, and John Lenz DDS at Wilmington Dental Associates recommend semi-annual cleanings and examinations. The cleanings remove accumulated plaque on and between teeth and at the gumline, and the exams look for decay and other oral health problems.

Types of Fillings

The actual filling procedure takes just one appointment for a simple cavity. More complex decay sometimes requires a porcelain crown and/or root canal therapy which can take more than one dental visit.

Dentists use many different kinds of materials to fill decayed tooth structure. Cost varies, as does the aesthetic result. However, before any the dentist places any filling material, he or she first removes the damaged tooth structure with a high-speed drill. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and leaves the patient with no or very mild discomfort afterwards.

The traditional choice for fillings has been amalgam. This combination of mercury, tin, copper and silver is strong and long-lasting, but its silver color, which darkens over time, is unattractive. In addition, some researchers question the safety of the mercury component in these fillings. Another long-standing choice is gold. Gold is exceptionally durable but the most expensive choice.

Tooth-colored fillings come in a couple of state-of-the-art materials that support tooth structure and also match the color and texture of tooth enamel perfectly. Composite resin fillings, composed of acrylic and porcelain, bond well to tooth enamel and are easily shaped to achieve good bite, fit and aesthetics.

Porcelain fillings are often reserved for larger cavities or to replace existing larger restorations. For instance, porcelain inlays fill large areas of decay on the top surface of a molar. Onlays fill molars, too, including their corners or cusps. Porcelain fillings, like gold fillings, may take more than one dental appointment to complete.

Wilmington Dental Associates: the Best in Family Dentistry

Doctors Lenz, Vattilana and Lenz want all their patients to have healthy, strong smiles that look great, too. If you suspect a cavity, contact the office right away for the best tooth repair possible. Call (302) 654-6915.


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