When you head into the dentist for your six month checkup, the last thing you want to hear is, “Well, it looks like we have a cavity back here!” The existence of a cavity requires for that tooth to be filled, a process that most people dread more than they need to.
What Is a Cavity?
Inside of your mouth at any given time live saliva, plaque, calculus, and bacteria. Saliva is your spit, which is actually incredibly important because it helps keep your gums hydrated and washes away food particles to protect against viruses and keep acid levels balanced in your mouth. Though saliva can reduce a great deal of plaque, the soft gooey substance still sticks to teeth due to the existence of bacteria in the mouth. Plaque that isn’t brushed and flossed away turns to calculus, a hardened tartar that can do damage to your teeth.
A cavity forms when all of the bacteria, plaque, and calculus cause the tooth to decay. All of the bad forces eventually work against the tooth to the point that it begins to break down and dissolve. A cavity itself is a hole in the tooth that can grow bigger the longer it is left unattended. If a cavity is ignored for too long, it causes extreme pain and eventually leads the the death of the tooth.
The Cavity Filling Process
In order to save the tooth and prevent you from experiencing pain, your dentist will fix your cavity using a filling. The first step to this process is to remove the decaying tooth material and clean the affected area. The fresh, clean area is the filled in with a safe material that serves to block bacteria from entering again to do additional damage.
Fillings can come in a variety of types. Porcelain, composite resin, gold, and silver are all popular choices. Gold lasts the longest, but is the most expensive and is very visible in the tooth due to its color. Composite resins match tooth color, but don’t last nearly as long. Only your dentist can help you determine which type of filling is best in your situation.