Without a proper at home brushing and flossing technique, in-office fluoride rinses, and dental sealants, teeth usually begin to decay between teeth or in the microscopic grooves on the biting surfaces of teeth. When decay advances through the enamel, and into the dentin a filling is required. The decayed portion of the tooth is removed, and replaced with a silver amalgam metal, gold, natural composite resin or tooth colored porcelain if esthetics are a concern. In any case the tooth is restored to health. Teeth decay from the sides if you don't floss regularly. Just a daily brushing removes decay causing sugars and bacteria from the top$ of the teeth, flossing removes the plaque and bacteria from between the teeth.
Fillings can now be implemented with tooth-colored amalgam materials that are as strong as the traditional 'silver' amalgam. Ask for the fillings materials options that are available to you.
Once a tooth has some beginning decay it is very important to act quickly. If the tooth is not repaired, the decay will advance into the pulp chamber where the nerve is located, often causing severe pain. Once decay is through the dentin and into the nerve, root canal therapy, or extraction are the only options.
Sometimes existing fillings must be replaced due to recurrent decay, or cracks in or around the filling. Over time composite resin fillings may discolor or stain, silver amalgam fillings turn black and tarnish. Although there may be no apparent clinical reason to replace these fillings, esthetics may be an important consideration, so they may be replaced or upgraded.
The average lifespan of a filling is between 3 and 15 years. Your filling may last longer or shorter depending on the type of material used, the location and size of the filling, and on the care you give your teeth.
The message is simple, but so important. Small problems are always easier to fix, and since small dental problems can rapidly become big problems, necessary dental care should become a top priority to maintain overall health. Brush and floss twice each day, and see us at least twice each year for a professional cleaning and exam, and we'll keep you out of trouble, or catch trouble while it's small.
The most commonly used materials in front teeth are composite and glass ionomer. They have excellent aesthetic properties, and are manufactured in a wide range of shades. In front teeth these materials are very durable and cause few problems.
Amalgam is the most commonly used filling material in back teeth. It is silver in color, is very durable and has few problems associated with its use.
Special composites have been developed for use in back teeth. They're reasonably durable in smaller cavities but can wear in larger cavities. They're manufactured in a wide range of shades and can look extremely good.