Dental fillings are used to restore health to a tooth that has been damaged by decay. Greeley family dentists Dr. Melvin Benson, Dr. Jacob Dunham, and Dr. Kerrie Cunningham offer several types of dental fillings and will recommend the material best suited to your specific dental problem.
Stages of Tooth Decay
You have approximately 600 species of bacteria living in your mouth, yet only one of them, S. mutans, can cause dental caries, the disease most commonly known as tooth decay. When S. mutans feeds on particles of sugar left behind in the mouth after eating and drinking, it produces an acidic by-product and begins a chain reaction that can have serious consequences. In the early stage, acids leech minerals from the surface enamel, leaving behind characteristic white patches.
At this point, regular dental hygiene and the naturally remineralizing effect of your saliva can adequately address this stage. If not addressed in the early stage, mineral structure just below the surface of the enamel is also lost, leading to a loss of enamel strength. At this point, a fluoride varnish treatment and consistent at-home dental hygiene can correct the problem.
As more bacteria colonize the area, they produce more acid leading to a collapse of the surface enamel and the formation of small pits known as cavities. With very few exceptions, fillings offer the best treatment for minor-to-moderate cavities. In late stages, bacteria and decay continue to eat away at the tooth, eventually reaching the inner dentin and pulp layers. Once this level of deterioration has occurred, our dental professionals will need to take more invasive measures, such as root canal therapy and, in certain cases, total extraction.
In most cases, our doctors will recommend a dental filling to restore health to a decayed tooth. There are several types of materials used today, and our doctors will discuss the options and what is best suited to treat your dental problem. When our doctors place a filling, they first remove every last trace of decay and decontaminates the affect area. Then they place the filling material – tooth-colored composite resin for front teeth, exceptionally durable silver amalgam for back teeth – to restore the structure and strength of the remaining tooth. Dental fillings will protect your tooth from further decay, but only consistent at-home dental hygiene and regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist can ensure your ongoing oral health. When a traditional dental filling is insufficient, our doctors may recommend an inlay or onlay for the best possible result.
Preventing Tooth Decay
The two most important things patients can do to reduce the risk of tooth decay are:
- Daily brushing and flossing
- Regular visits to Integrated Dental Arts for preventive dental care
During routine visits to Integrated Dental Arts, our experienced staff takes time to demonstrate effective brushing techniques and discuss the benefits of good oral health for overall physical well being. In addition, there are certain lifestyle habits that can also play a role in reducing tooth decay and promoting overall good health:
- Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables
- Limiting sugary drinks and snacks, including sports drinks
- Rinsing the mouth or chewing sugar free gum after meals and snacks
- Stopping tobacco use and smoking