Tooth decay is a common problem that we address at our dental care practice. There are different degrees of tooth decay that people may experience, and it's important to us that we address the unique needs of each patient, maintaining as much healthy tooth structure as possible. This is an ideal way to ensure the dental health of a patient for years to come. The team will be more than happy to answer all of your questions about tooth decay during your visit. Let's look at some of the basics when it comes to dental filling options.
Tooth decay is caused by plaque build up on the surface of teeth. Plaque is an acidic substance that eats away at tooth structure, resulting in teeth that are weakened and look less aesthetically appealing. It's important that you visit your cosmetic and restorative dentist regularly so that any issues related to tooth decay can be addressed as soon as possible.
For small cavities, the best option for treatment is dental fillings. There are two kinds of dental fillings that can be used: metal fillings and tooth-colored fillings.
Traditional metal fillings were used for many years, though many dentists prefer tooth-colored fillings today. One reason is that metal fillings of the past often contained mercury whereas tooth-colored fillings are free from toxic substances. In addition, less tooth structure needs to be removed in order to place tooth-colored fillings when compared to metal fillings. Finally, metal fillings can slightly expand in hot temperatures and slightly contract in cold temperatures; tooth-colored fillings are not affected by fluctuations in temperature.
When a person has more substantial tooth decay that cannot be properly addressed through normal dental fillings, the best option for treatment is inlays and onlays. Inlay and onlay are similar to dental fillings but are intended to restore a larger part of a patient's tooth, such as the cusps (the biting surfaces).
When a person has suffered from extremely serious tooth decay, Inlay and Onlay may not be a viable option any longer. In those more extreme cases, the best option for treatment is dental crowns. Dental crowns are used to cap teeth in order to provide an aesthetically appealing appearance and to protect the tooth from further damage.
Ideally, we want to use other dental restorations rather than dental crowns since dental crowns involve the most removal of tooth structure. That said, sometimes dental crowns are the only viable option for saving a patient's tooth.
The best possible option for addressing tooth decay is general and preventative dental care. This means brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits. If the tooth decay is too severe, then it may be necessary to extract the tooth and replace it. Dental implants or a removable dental bridge can meet that need. We will put all options on the table to help you achieve excellent dental health.