Tooth decay is the destruction of the tooth structure. This occurs when food containing carbohydrates (breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy) are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque which dissolves the enamel surface of the teeth, forming holes in the teeth called cavities.
If left untreated, the decay will eventually cause extensive damage to the tooth, and potentially cause the root to be infected. However, if the cavity is caught early, your dentist can treat it with a simple filling, typically in one appointment.
Type of Fillings:
• gold; porcelain; silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper)
• or tooth-colored, plastic, and glass materials called composite resin fillings.
The Steps Involved in Filling a Tooth:
1. The dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled.
2. The decayed area is removed by the dentist. The instrument choice will depend on the individual dentist as
well as the location and extent of the decay.
3. The dentist will probe or test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed.
4. The space will be prepared for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris.
Your dentist will probe or test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed.
5. Once the decay has been removed, the dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve.
Additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings:
• The tooth-colored material is applied in layers and a special light that "cures" or hardens each layer is applied.
• Once the multi-layering process is completed, the dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.
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