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Cavity Fillings

Cavity Fillings


Tooth Anatomy

                A tooth has three layers: enamel, dentin and pulp.  Enamel is a very dense material that gives a tooth dazzling white appearance.  The middle layer is yellowish softer dentin.  The inner most layer is called pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels.  


What is a Cavity?

A cavity is also called dental caries or decay.  It is caused by prolonged acid attack by long-term bacteria plaque accumulation on tooth surfaces.  It first weakens enamel and gradually invades dental.  Normally there are no symptoms when cavity is in enamel layer.  When it enters the dentin layer, some patients may complain sensitivity to cold.  Because the dentin layer is soft, cavity progresses very rapidly.  It can enter the pulp rather quickly to produce pain and infections. When patient starts to feel pain, the cavity cannot be filled anymore, and a root canal therapy is often needed to get rid of the pain and to save the tooth.

Why should a Cavity be filled?

Cavity or tooth decay can weaken your tooth structure to the point that it cannot be filled without more expensive procedures such as root canal treatment or dental crowns, not to mention the pain and infection involved if the decay worsens.  Detecting a cavity early on before any symptoms is the best approach to protect your teeth.  We strongly recommend periodic dental exams as preventative measure once every six months.


How to fill a Cavity?

When a cavity is still in enamel, it can be removed without anesthesia, and can be filled to the original shape, size and color.  However, when it enters dentin layer, local anesthesia is often needed in order to thoroughly remove all decay.  When it is too close to the pulp, some medication may be needed to protect the pulp (call pulp cap) and to avoid the need for a root canal therapy.  Once all decay is removed, and the pulp is protected, a filling material is applied to fill the cavity to the original shape and size. 


What Materials can be used to fill a Cavity?

There are mainly two kinds of dental materials we use to fill a cavity.  For all front teeth and most back teeth, tooth-colored dental resin (composite) is used.  But for patients who show multiple extensive decay and poor oral hygiene, silver amalgam may be chosen to fill some back teeth when cavity is too deep.  If you are not sure what filling material is best for you, please ask Dr Shi or Dr Yeung at Centre Dental to help you choose.  There is no perfect material, and each has its own pros and cons.  Dr Shi and Dr Yeung will objectively suggest the best material for you.


What to Expect after Cavity Filling?

When a cavity is deep, you may feel some discomfort to hot or cold.  It will get better gradually.  Try to avoid extreme temperatures for the first two months to allow you tooth get used to the new filling.  If you feel discomfort on chewing (pressure) but not to temperature change, your new filling material may be too high, and needs to be adjusted.  Please contact us immediately.  If you experience spontaneous pain after the cavity filling, please call us right away. 

What Should I do to Prevent Cavities?

Cavities are preventable.  Good oral hygiene habit and periodic visits to dentist for checkup and cleaning will help you prevent most cavities.  Certain patients may need additional measures to control cavities, such as sealants (children), fluoride treatment (oral cancer patients) orthodontic treatment (severely misaligned teeth), etc.  When you visit us, Dr shi and Dr Yeung are highly trained to detect cavities at very early stages.  Also we emphasize oral hygiene education.  We will recommend a customized hygiene routine to reduce chances of future decay.  +