If even a single spot on one of your teeth is not cleaned daily, the bacteria which normally exist in your mouth will organize themselves into a sticky film substance called plaque. Cavities are caused by the acids produced by bacteria in plaque. This acid eats away at the enamel of the tooth. When the cavity gets through the enamel into the underlying tooth structure (the dentin), repair and restoration of the tooth becomes necessary.
If there is sufficient tooth structure remaining after removal of all the caries, a filling is placed. There are two types of fillings commonly used:
› Amalgam (silver) fillings
› Composite fillings (white)
Amalgam (silver) fillings are one of the oldest and most commonly used filling materials. Amalgam is a mixture of silver and other metals in a powdered form plus mercury. The silver powder and mercury are mixed together, placed into the cavity preparation, shaped and then it hardens. The American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration has studied the safety of amalgam fillings and has found them to be safe and effective.
What is a composite resin (white filling)?
A composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but are also used for cosmetic
improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
• What are the advantages of composites?
Esthetics are the main advantage, since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
• How is a composite placed?
Following preparation, the dentist places the composite in layers, using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the dentist will shape the composite to fit the tooth. The dentist then polishes the composite to prevent staining and early wear.
• How long does it take to place a composite?
Because a composite is more difficult to place than silver fillings, it takes the dentist about 10-20 minutes longer to place. Placement time depends on the size and location of the cavity.
• How long will a composite last?
Studies have shown that composites last 7-1 0 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restorations, where silver fillings last much longer than composites.
What is a DENTAL SEALANT?
A dental sealant is a resin coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth or newly erupted molars of children ages 6-12 yrs. of age. Grooves in these teeth are so narrow that a toothbrush cannot fit into the spaces to remove plaque. Dental sealants prevent dental decay in the grooves.
Sealants Can Help Prevent Decay
Sealants are a white or tooth shaded material that is bonded to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealing off deep grooves and pits where food and bacteria form cavities.
How are Sealants applied?
Applying sealants is a simple procedure. The teeth are first cleaned, then etched with a solution to help the sealant adhere. Next, the sealant is brushed on, then a special light is used to harden the material. The procedure is "child-friendly" because there is no need for anesthetic or drilling.
When should my Child have Sealants applied?
Sealants are recommended for all children when they get their permanent first molars (around 6 years of age) and when they get their permanent second molars (around 12 years of age).
Old restorations (fillings) sometimes need to be replaced. After a period of time, these fillings go dark with age or can fracture from decay. Onlays protect and restore large portions of the decayed tooth, much like a large filling. Because they are made with porcelain, they are customized to your natural tooth shade and look like your natural tooth. Porcelain inlays and onlays are made from the same strong, tooth colored material that is used for crowns and bridgework. A customized shade makes them virtually undetectable.Porcelain inlays and onlays require two appointments and local anesthesia. The existing silver filling is removed and the tooth shaped for proper placement. An impression of the involved teeth and the opposing teeth is taken and a temporary restoration is place. About a week later, after the dental labratory custom makes the restoration, the temporary filling is removed, the porcelain is fitted and adjusted, and then is bonded or cemented in place.
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