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Cavities and Fillings

While the field of dentistry offers many innovative procedures to protect and repair your teeth, dental fillings remain one of the most common treatments used to save teeth damaged by cavities. The procedure is so frequently administered that adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have an average of seven dental fillings.

Dental fillings are used to repair a cavity, small hole, or damaged area in the outer surface, or enamel, of your tooth. Cavities occur when plaque, a sticky combination of bacteria and food debris, forms an acid that destroys tooth enamel when it isn’t removed by regular brushing.

A dental filling consists of a small amount of silver metal or tooth-colored composite material that is used as cement to fill in the damage caused by plaque. Dental fillings restore a smooth chewing surface and protect underlying nerves from being exposed. 

Our dentists at Rifkin Dental in Yorktown Heights and Carmel, New York specialize in using fillings for professional, state-of-the-art tooth repair. Our expert team administers fillings that restore both aesthetics and function to teeth damaged by cavities. We also offer popular options like tooth-colored fillings that can resolve pain, restore health to damaged or diseased teeth, and improve your appearance. 

Find out how fillings can save teeth that are threatened by cavities. 

Treat decay

Before we apply a filling to repair your cavity, we remove the decay that caused the damage. Then, we seal it over with the filling to prevent further deterioration.

Covering a hole in your enamel without removing the decay allows the decay to continue to grow and spread to other parts of your tooth. When decay spreads to the inner pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, it can destroy your tooth. Untreated decay can also spread to an adjacent tooth, even if that tooth is healthy.

Stopping the progress of decay is also important because it prevents the formation of an infected, or abscessed, tooth. When a tooth becomes infected, it can threaten the health of other parts of your body if the infection spreads through your bloodstream. 

Restore full function

Repairing a cavity with a filling can restore full function to your damaged tooth. Having an untreated cavity can cause pain and sensitivity. The effect can interfere with your ability to chew, speak, and move your mouth normally because your mouth depends on all your teeth working together to function. 

A dental filling can also be appropriate to repair an injured or broken tooth where enamel has chipped off. This can sometimes occur as a result of teeth grinding. Covering these areas with fillings prevents tooth decay from settling in the exposed areas. 

When a tooth needs this type of repair, a resin composite filling, which is made from powdered glass or ceramic and tooth-colored resin, is often the solution. Unlike silver amalgam fillings, composite resin fillings don’t leave visible dark spots. 

Because it can be blended into the surface of the tooth, the composite resin is often used to repair cracks and cover gaps and stains in visible areas of your teeth. It can even be used to change the shape of a tooth. 

Prevent tooth loss

A filling can help you keep your natural teeth longer because it seals the damaged area and stops the progress of decay. The composite material used in fillings also reinforces the areas weakened by decay to restore strength and durability.  

If you ignore your cavity, plaque can eventually damage the affected tooth so severely that it requires extraction, leaving you with embarrassing gaps and a higher risk of bone deterioration along your gumline. 

The roots of your teeth stimulate growth along your jawbone when you chew. This movement triggers the release of nutrients that keep your jaw healthy. When you lose a tooth and its root’s stimulation, it can threaten the health of your jawbone and eventually change your facial structure.

Fillings can help you keep your natural teeth as long as possible. With attention to daily dental hygiene and twice-yearly teeth cleanings, a filling can last up to 25 years depending on the material used. Silver amalgam fillings are the most durable. Resin composite fillings can last about 15 years but are often preferred because they provide a more aesthetic solution and blend in with your natural teeth. 

Find out more about dental fillings and how they can help maintain teeth damaged by cavities. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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