What are Cavity fillings?
Cavity fillings or dental fillings are methods used to restore the integrity and function of structures that are missing in the tooth. These damaged areas in the teeth develop into tiny holes called cavities or caries. When a cavity begins, you might experience mild or no symptoms at all.
However, as the cavity progresses, most people begin to experience toothache or mouth pain. It is difficult to know when caries is forming. That is why routine dental checkups and cleaning are principal to good dental health.
Cavity filling starts with the administration of the local anesthetic. The anesthetic blocks the sensation of pain around the tooth. The affected portion of the tooth is then removed and filled with the appropriate tooth-colored material.
Here are a few reasons why tooth fillings are good
- They help seal spaces in the teeth where bacteria and food substances can enter, and this prevents further development of tooth decay.
- They help in the repair of broken, cracked, or worn-down teeth.
Classification of Cavities
Dr. G.V. Black, an American dentist, created a system of caries classification over 100 years ago. This system categorizes dental caries based on two factors; location of caries and the type of tooth affected (anterior or posterior).
According to the G.V. Black classification, there are six classes of cavities. They are as follows:
These cavities form in the pits and fissures of the teeth. Hence they are also referred to as pit-and-fissure lesions. They include those that form on the surfaces of back teeth, such as molars and premolars. These cavities are visible to the human eye.
These cavities develop on surfaces between the premolars and molars. Class II cavities are not visible to the human eyes.
Class III cavities occur on the surfaces in between the front teeth. The front teeth include the incisors and canines. It is important to note that these cavities do not develop on the cutting edges of the front teeth. Just like Class II cavities, these cavities are not visible to the human eye.
Class IV cavities also occur on the surfaces between the front teeth. But unlike Class III cavities, they develop on the cutting edges of the front teeth.
These cavities form on both the front and back teeth near the gum line.
Class VI cavities typically form around the cusp tips of the back teeth (molars and premolars) as well as the cutting edges of the front teeth (incisors and canines).
Causes of Cavities
Cavities arise as a result of tooth decay. The formation of caries isn’t instantaneous. It takes place over a while. Here’s a detailed process of how tooth decay develops:
- Formation of Plaque: Plaque is a sticky film that builds up slowly on your teeth. It forms due to accumulated food particles, acid, and sugars that remain in the teeth. When sugars and starches are on your teeth for a long time, bacteria begin to feed on them, and plaque forms.
Plaque is very acidic, and it attacks the enamel of the teeth, resulting in holes and dark spots around the teeth. When plaque stays on the teeth for too long, it hardens and forms tartar. Tartar is more difficult to remove, and it also protects bacteria.
- Plaque starts to strike: The acids in plaque remove minerals in the tooth’s enamel. The removal of these minerals causes the enamel to begin wearing out, resulting in openings within the enamel. Once the acid wears away some parts of the enamel, it begins to attack the next layer of the teeth, the dentin. Exposed dentin leads to increased tooth sensitivity, which is one of the symptoms of a cavity.
- The Plaque attacks continue: As the tooth decay progresses, the acid and bacteria continue their journey through your teeth. After working their way through the dentin layer, they reach the pulp, which is the part of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. The bacteria irritate the pulp and cause it to swell.
Because there isn’t space for expansion of the pulp within the tooth, the nerves become compressed, causing pain in the tooth.
As long as you have teeth, there is always the possibility of getting cavities. However, some factors listed below can increase the risk:
- Diet Choice: Foods and drinks that have high sugar content are the leading cause of cavities. Remember that the bacteria in the mouth feed on simple sugars from foods such as; bread, cake, cookies, chips, and candy. It is the action of the bacteria on these substances that leads to the formation of plaque.
- Dry mouth: This results from a decrease in saliva production in the mouth. Saliva plays a principal role in preventing tooth decay. It helps protect the enamel and also counters the acid production by the plaque bacteria. Therefore anything which decreases saliva production increases the risk of getting cavities. These include; smoking, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, as well as some medications and medical conditions.
Some medications that are known to cause dry mouth include:
- Pain medications
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Lack of proper oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene is important for cavity prevention. These include; brushing at least twice a day, flossing every day after meals, and using mouthwash regularly. Carrying out these actions helps prevent tooth decay.
Proper oral hygiene also involves visiting the dentist occasionally for teeth cleanings. This way, your dentist can catch the formation of cavities early and prevent them from developing further.
Signs and Symptoms of Cavities
Most times, cavities do not cause symptoms during their early stages. Symptoms begin to develop when caries get larger.
Some of the signs and symptoms of cavities include the following:
- Toothache – pain in or around the tooth without any apparent cause.
- Tooth sensitivity
- Holes in the teeth – once a cavity develops, holes begin to appear on the tooth.
- Stains on the teeth – brown or black stains appear on the surface of the tooth over time.
Types of Cavity Fillings
There are two types of cavity fillings; Direct and Indirect cavity fillings. Direct cavity fillings are fillings made inside the mouth in a single visit to the dentist. For indirect fillings, two appointments with the dentist are necessary. Indirect cavity fillings are custom made for each patient based on their needs, the severity of the cavity, and tooth structure.
Direct Cavity Fillings
Three main types of direct cavity fillings are known. They include:
- Composite fillings: Composite filling are tooth-colored. They are the most common materials used for cavity fillings, as well as repair of broken and chipped teeth.
There are different filling materials available, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are tooth-colored, and this helps them blend in with the natural teeth. That is their main advantage. The composite filling materials also possess strength and high durability.
Disadvantages of Composite Fillings
Compared to silver amalgam fillings, composite fillings are more susceptible to cavities. While composite fillings may last for about five years, silver amalgam fillings last longer, up to 10 to 15 years.
- Silver Amalgam Fillings: This filling consists of a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. It is important to note that the mercury contained in this filling is non-toxic and poses no threat to your health.
Advantages of Silver Amalgam Fillings
Of all the direct fillings available, amalgam fillings are the cheapest. They are also the most durable.
Disadvantages of Silver Amalgam Fillings
The main advantage of composite fillings over amalgam fillings is that they are more aesthetically pleasing. However, silver amalgam fillings used to repair back molars will not be visible.
- Glass Ionomer Fillings: They are of two types; Conventional Glass Ionomer fillings (CGIs) and Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer fillings (RMGIs).
- Conventional Glass Ionomer Fillings: These fillings are tooth-colored like composite fillings. They are composed of ion-leachable glass particles as well as polymerizable acids. CGIs also help prevent future cavities by releasing fluoride.
- Resin-Modified Glass Ionomer Fillings: These fillings are similar to CGIs, but they have more strength, and they contain acrylic resins. They are mainly used to fill cavities in baby teeth.
Indirect Cavity Fillings
Indirect fillings are suitable for cavities that can’t be corrected using simple cavity fillings. Two office visits are needed to perform indirect filling.
Types of Indirect fillings include:
- Porcelain cavity fillings: These fillings are very identical to natural teeth. They are less likely to break compared to composite fillings. These fillings offer patients both aesthetics and long-lasting restoration.
- Gold cavity fillings: They are the strongest of indirect cavity fillings. They offer a lot of protection to weakened teeth cusps that have been affected by cavities. Gold fillings are less aesthetically pleasing when compared to porcelain and composite fillings.
Dentists that specialize in Cavity Filling
Pediatric dentists, general dentists, as well as family dentists perform cavity filling. These dentists also carry out teeth cleanings and restorations.
Cost of Cavity Filling
It depends on the filling that the patient needs, as well as the location of the dentist. Indirect cavity fillings are generally more expensive than composite or glass ionomer fillings. for cheap costing of Dental filling you can contact Herzliya Dental Clinic.
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