Dental Fillings

Why do I need a filling?

When a tooth has decayed and developed a cavity, it's important to remove the decay and restore the tooth. Treatment will stop the cavity from growing larger and weakening the tooth, and it will also prevent bacteria from infecting the inner layers of the tooth.

What is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that forms when acids in the mouth destroy tooth structure. These acids are produced by the bacteria in plaque, which is sticky, colorless film that forms constantly on your teeth. Unless steps are taken to prevent this decay process, the acids slowly dissolve the tooth enamel, causing a cavity.

Finding Cavities:

We locate tooth decay by performing a visual inspection and the use of a dental explorer, digital x-rays, and sometimes specialized equipment as well. In some cases we can see cavities easily on the biting surfaces of your teeth. To check for cavities that are less easily seen on the tops and side surfaces of your teeth, we may use a dental explorer, which sticks slightly when it touches decayed areas. We also use digital x-rays to find more advanced decay inside of a tooth or decay between teeth. By treating decay as soon as possible, we can often prevent it from causing further damage and more extensive treatment in the future.

The procedure:

We begin by numbing the area to make you comfortable. Depending on the size of the filling and which tooth we're working on, we may also place a rubber dam to protect your mouth and throat while we work. Then we use the handpiece to remove any decay and shape the tooth, so it will securely hold the filling. To mold the filling to shape the tooth, we surround the tooth with a thin, flexible band. We may also use a small wedge to hold the band snugly in place. We apply a solution that chemically creates a strong bond with the tooth. Next we carefully place the filing into the prepared tooth, layer by layer. A special light is often used to harden each layer. Then we shape the final contours of the filling, check the bite and confirm that you'll be able to floss around the tooth to keep it healthy. Last we give the filling a final polish.

Fillings Post-op Instructions >

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