Do you suspect you might have a cavity? If you have a persistent toothache or one that is noticeable when you consume something cold, hot or sweet? Do you notice a hole or pit in one of your teeth? If so, you may very well have a cavity caused by decay. That is why whenever you see Dr. Larsen for bi-annual teeth cleanings and checkups, he is on the lookout for signs of decay when he is examining your mouth for soft spots or things that show up on your dental X-rays indicating a cavity.
Of course, depending on where the cavity is and how deep the decay, you might not even notice any signs, at least in the early stages of decay. But as the decay gets bigger, you’ll likely come across the following signs which indicate a cavity progression.
Signs of a cavity
– Experiencing random pain in a tooth.
– Experiencing mild to sharp pain or tooth sensitivity when you eat or drink items sweet things or those at temperature extremes (hot/cold).
– Finding pits in a tooth.
– Finding discoloration on a tooth, whether it is brown, black, or white.
– Feeling pain when you bite down on something.
If it turns out that you do have a cavity, Dr. Larsen may place a composite dental filling to restore the form, function and aesthetic of your damage or decayed tooth. This is particularly helpful if you are concerned about filling the cavity with a noticeable material, like silver amalgam.
At Gentle Dental Arts, we offer white or composite dental fillings so that your smile stays natural looking. Mainly used for minor tooth damage, such as a fracture or chip, composite fillings are a tooth-colored resin that comes in several shades so a good match can be made to blend in with your tooth color.
Though composite resin materials are strong, they aren’t as strong as other fillings, so they aren’t typically used on the molars which are constantly exposed to pressure as you bite or chew. Composite fillings are placed inside the tooth and not over an entire side or section of a damaged tooth which also means they aren’t regularly subjected to excessive force. Composite fillings are ideal for smaller cavities located in the front or side of your mouth.
These tooth-colored fillings are subtle restorations created with a combination of powdered glass and acrylic resin components that bind with the surface of the damaged tooth and colored and shaded to your tooth. This is done in several steps. First, the decay will be removed completely and the area cleaned and dried. Next, the resin material will be set down in layers. Each layer will be cured with a special light to make sure the tooth stays dry during the filling process. Dr. Larsen will shape the composite to fit your tooth and finish by smoothing it out and polishing it. Why might you choose a composite filling?
Some Benefits of Composite Fillings
– Unlike amalgam fillings which are made with metal that can be visible, composite fillings mimic your own teeth so they blend in and are less noticeable in your smile. This makes them a good choice if you need to improve a tooth’s appearance, such as changing a discolored tooth, fixing chips or minor decay, and filling in gaps between neighboring teeth.
– Made of plastic and tiny glass particles, composite fillings contain no mercury, unlike their amalgam counterparts.
– Since the cavity preparation for composite fillings is more conservative than for a traditional amalgam or silver filling, they also don’t require as much drilling as other materials, leaving more of the tooth’s structure to work with. This strength is compounded as the composite is chemically bonded directly to the tooth structure, supporting the tooth and making it stronger than it would be if it were being filled with an amalgam filling. This also helps protect the tooth from cracking or fracturing.
– Unlike silver amalgam or gold fillings, composite resin is gentler on the soft tissues in your mouth, including cheeks, tongue and gums.
– Unlike other filling materials, the composite resin hardens in seconds, not days.
– If the composite filling sustains damage it can be repaired by our dentist.
Composite Filling Aftercare
Once your filling is placed and you are waiting for your anesthetic to wear off, you will want to avoid eating so as not to injure the soft tissues in the mouth. If you just can’t wait, choose something that is soft like applesauce or yogurt. Since the tooth might be sensitive for a few days, avoid foods and drinks that are hot or cold and stay away from foods that are hard, sticky or chewy. Chew on the opposite side of the mouth from the filling until any sensitivity subsides.
Over time your composite fillings will need to be replaced, anywhere between 5-7 years, but you can help them last longer by taking good care of them. Brush and floss daily to protect your teeth, gums, and fillings. This not only provides a healthier oral environment, but it also helps avoid staining on your white filling. Things to limit (or avoid) include wine, coffee, and tea, as well as tobacco use. Coming in for six-month checkups will also help keep your fillings in their best shape.
If you are wanting to fill a cavity in your smile with a natural looking, mercury and metal free result that supports your oral health, our tooth-colored composite fillings at Gentle Dental Arts fit the bill perfectly. If you would like to find out more about our composite fillings or to schedule an appointment, please call 801-788-4922 today!