A few lucky people can boast that they’ve never had a cavity, but the fact is that almost everyone will need a filling at some point in time. Fillings are the most common procedures performed in dental practices today. Fillings, also known as “restorations,” are used to repair and strengthen a tooth damaged by decay or trauma.
What Causes Cavities?
Many people believe that consuming large amounts of sugar will cause cavities. Sugar does play a role in cavity formation, but the main culprit is bacteria. Sugar helps the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth grow and thrive, producing acid. This acid combines with saliva to form plaque, a sticky substance that clings to the surface of your teeth. After time, this acid eats away at your tooth enamel, weakening the structure and creating a cavity.
How Can I Prevent Cavities?
Cavity prevention begins at home. Dr. Haag recommends you:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Electric toothbrushes, such as Sonicare, are the most effective at removing plaque.
- Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months.
- Floss each night before bed.
- Use a special toothpaste, such as Sensodyne or Biotene, if you suffer from sensitivity or dry mouth.
Parents can help young children develop healthy habits early on. Children can use fluoride toothpaste as long as they don’t swallow it. Use a portion of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice, and assist your child with proper brushing techniques.
What if I Need a Filling?
As science and technology have improved, so have fillings. For more than a century, dentists relied on amalgam fillings to repair decayed and damaged teeth. Also known as “silver fillings” because of their silvery metallic color, amalgams became less popular as newer, better materials were developed.
At Southwest Nebraska Dental Center, we use composite fillings for all dental restorations. Composite fillings are strong and durable. Unlike metal fillings, they do not expand or contract when exposed to heat, so they are less likely to shift or become loose. Most importantly, they are made of a resin that can be designed to match the color of your existing teeth, so it’s impossible to tell you’ve had a cavity filled.
Composite fillings are also ideal for cosmetic procedures. Because of their natural appearance, they can be used to fill unsightly gaps between teeth, recontour a misshapen tooth, or repair a chip.
No amount of brushing and flossing can replace the need for regular dental visits. Our dental hygienists use specialized tools and techniques for removing any plaque that remains even after brushing and flossing. In the event that you do develop a cavity, you may not even know it’s there until it’s large enough to cause discomfort. Routine examinations help us detect cavities while they are still small and easily treated. Remember to schedule an appointment at Southwest Nebraska Dental Center for a cleaning and exam every six months.