What is a Filling?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.
By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
Which Type of Filling is Best?
No one type of filling is best for everyone. What’s right for you will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Considerations for different materials include:
- Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
- Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended.
What Happens When You get a Filling?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with the materials described above.
How Do I Know if I Need a Filling?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.
Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.
Good oral hygiene is the key to having a pain-free mouth. The basic cleaning regimen a person is required to do is brushing of the teeth two or three times a day and flossing the teeth at least once daily. This process will keep your teeth and gums in good shape and help prevent cavities and bad breath. If you want to have great oral hygiene, you will need to visit your dentist regularly (usually ever 3 to 6 months) for a complete professional cleaning of the teeth above and below the gumline.
How Ultrasonic Tools Work
Ultrasonic dental cleaning tools, aka power scalers, use the power of high-frequency sound waves to help remove plaque and tartar from teeth. The ultrasonic waves actually crush the hard, calcified tartar deposits, which allows them to be removed from the teeth. Ultrasonic cleaning also results in shock waves that help kill bacteria by disrupting their cellular processes.
Pros & Cons of Ultrasonic Cleaning
In most situations, ultrasonic cleaning is going to work equally well as a hand cleaning. The main situation in which ultrasonic cleaning has a distinct advantage is when patients have deep gum pockets. In this case, the small tip of the ultrasonic cleaning instrument is better able to reach all the way down into the gum pocket to remove tartar, without causing discomfort o the patient. Ultrasonic cleaning is also advantageous for cleaning hard-to-reach nooks and crannies in teeth and flushing out debris.
The main disadvantage of ultrasonic cleaning is that the vibration from the instruments can make it harder for the doctor to feel whether all the tartar has been removed from the root of a tooth. Ultrasonic cleaning may also be unsuitable for individuals with sensitive teeth or restorations.
Digital x-rays represent a significant advancement of dental technology. This new style of x-rays is not only safer for you as a patient, it is safer for your dentist and their staff as well. Here at Sunset Dental, we are proud to use this advanced technology to help our professional dentists better examine your teeth, more accurately diagnose and treat any dental issues you may be experiencing. For more information about digital x-rays and the advantages they offer you as a patient, please read our convenient guide below.
The advantages of using digital X-ray technology
Digital x-rays are superior to traditional X-ray technology for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are safer for you as a patient. They require no toxic or caustic chemicals, and will expose you to 90 percent less radiation than traditional X-rays.
Digital dental x-rays can be taken far more quickly than traditional X-rays, and can be viewed immediately by both you and your dentist. Because they present a clearer, more defined image, your dentist will be better able to identify any dental issues that you are experiencing. They may be able to catch problems far earlier, which can result in fewer extensive (and expensive) dental treatments. One of the best parts about this technology, however is that your dentist can view these images with you.
How are digital X-rays taken?
When taking a digital dental X-ray, your dentist or a member of their staff will place a tiny sensor inside your mouth. This will instantly record images of your teeth, gums, and the supporting bone beneath, allowing your dentist to see any areas that may need to be addressed. Once your x-rays have been taken, you and your dentist can fully discuss any issues that they have noticed, as well as the appropriate treatments. Digital dental x-rays allow you to be far more involved in the formulation of your own treatment plans.
If you have dental issues that you need addressed, or if you need to schedule a regular cleaning or checkup, contact Sunset Dental or use the convenient email form. We look forward to helping you achieve the healthy, bright smile that every patient deserves.