Even with excellent dental hygiene and regular dentist visits, cavities can still develop in our teeth. In fact, a report released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2015 states that about 91 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 had dental caries (cavities) in permanent teeth in 2011-2012, with 96 percent of Americans over age 65 having had tooth decay.
Dental fillings have always been the go-to solution for dealing with cavities, but if you have never had a cavity filled (or if it’s been awhile since your last filling), you might be unfamiliar with just how far the technique has advanced over the years.
What are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are used to close off spaces in teeth that have been created by tooth decay, supporting the remaining tooth tissue and helping slow down or stop further decay to the area. Fillings are made from a variety of materials, including amalgam (or silver) fillings, porcelain, composite materials, and even gold.
Fillings are used in instances of mild to moderate tooth decay; larger sections of decay or tooth trauma are typically treated with crowns, caps, and even root canals.
Applying a dental filling is fairly straightforward – after identifying that a filling is necessary, your dentist removes the decay from the tooth and cleans the surrounding area, and then the remaining cavity is filled with the chosen material.
Why We Need Dental Fillings
Having a cavity filled may sound unappealing, but it is necessary to prevent further damage to your teeth. The longer a dental carie is left untreated, the more tissue it will destroy, and can eventually reach the nerve and blood vessels of the tooth. Painful abscesses can form, and if too much tissue is lost, only a root canal and dental crown can address the issue.
If concern about the aesthetics of a dental filling are preventing you from having one, you should know that the technology behind the procedure has vastly improved over the years.
Advances in Filling Methods
Fillings have been in use for a long time – possibly for more than 6,500 years. In the 1800s, dentists began making fillings out of soft metals, and later developed dental amalgams (mixtures of silver, tin, copper and mercury).
These highly-visible amalgam (commonly referred to as ‘silver’) fillings were widely used until just the past few decades. Now what we refer to as ‘white fillings’ are common practice; dental fillings are made from a tooth-colored composite material that can strengthen and reshape teeth, while doing a much better job of matching the shade of surrounding teeth.
Along with filling the cavity caused by a dental carie, a white filling bonds to the surrounding tooth and supports its structure, insulating it from extreme temperature changes and providing strength when under excessive pressure.
How Dr. Lordo’s Office Can Help
Placing a dental filling is a very common procedure, and our professionals at Dr. Lordo’s office are more than happy to walk you through the process before you make a decision. Not only will your tooth look good as new, but it will also be restored to complete functionality.