Most dental patients, especially children, will experience at least one cavity during their lifetime. Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which develops from bad oral hygiene, eating sugary foods and for young kids, sleeping with baby bottles. Luckily, composite fillings are available to restore a tooth’s prior strength and prevent future cavities from developing. Fillings work by placing tooth-colored plastic and glass mixtures into a tooth, layer by layer. These fillings are durable and last for years, keeping your teeth safe. Find out why fillings are used and how they’re effective with this guide!
Teeth are an incredibly strong substance in the body, but they can deteriorate over time from plaque buildup and tooth decay. If tooth decay is left untreated, it can transform into a cavity. Cavities are also called caries, and they are permanently damaged areas on the tooth’s surface that forms holes as the tooth breaks down. Tooth decay and cavities are among some of the world’s most prevalent oral health problems, especially in children, teenagers and older adults. Anyone who has teeth can develop a cavity, even an infant. Even though cavities are common, they are very serious. As they continue to grow and deepen, they can affect other layers of the tooth and lead to pain, infection and tooth loss.
Cavities mostly form from built up plaque that resides on your teeth from sugar foods and drinks. The bacteria in our mouths make acids, which attach to leftover plaque on teeth and eats away at tooth enamel. Painful toothaches can develop as the cavity reaches deeper and deeper into the tooth where it affects the nerve endings. Bacteria can grow in your mouth from frequent snacking, consuming sugary drinks and neglecting your oral hygiene routine. Infants often develop cavities from sleeping with their milk or juice-filled baby bottles in their mouths, leading to baby bottle tooth decay. Cavities can even form from dry mouth whenever there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food and plaque. Those suffering from eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, are also at a higher likelihood for experiencing cavities as repeated vomiting causes stomach acid to continuously wash over the teeth.
As common as they are, cavities are easily treatable. The most common way to treat a cavity is through a composite filling, which restores the tooth’s strength prior to the decay. In the past, fillings were typically made of silver amalgam (metal) and were highly avoided due to the levels of mercury that they contained. As modern technology has progressed, however, patients now have the option to choose a tooth-colored composite filling made of a plastic and glass mixture that is mercury-free. These fillings are placed into the cavity layer by layer and then cured (hardened) by a special light to establish durability and strength. Once completed, the dentist will then polish the tooth to make it look natural and prevent staining. Composite fillings are not only durable but they’re much more attractive than traditional metal fillings are. For those who need to fix a cavity but don’t want to draw attention to their mouths, composite fillings are the best option for you.
Prevention is always preferred over treatment, but it can be difficult, especially for kids, to be 100% protected from cavities. Children and teenagers benefit greatly from dental sealants, which provide an extra layer of protection from invasive food particles and plaque. Dental sealants work by applying a protective plastic coating onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, sealing off the grooves and pits that tend to develop there. Sealants can last for several years before needing to be replaced, but they should still be checked on regularly by a dentist to ensure their durability. Other tips to protect children’s teeth include limiting the number of sugary snacks that they eat each day, brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, helping them floss between their teeth and bringing them in every six months for a dental checkup. Encouraging kids to maintain a good oral hygiene routine from a young age will help them prevent cavities from occurring and keep their permanent teeth strong throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
At Stonebrook Family Dental, we can help you and your family treat your cavities and get you a beautiful, brilliant smile. Although you sometimes can’t avoid cavities, our experienced staff can help strengthen your teeth and set you on the right track for success. Call our office today at (303) 872-7907 to schedule your next dental checkup!