What Causes Dental Cavities?
Cavities happen when tooth decay occurs over time. Various factors can make you more susceptible to tooth decay.
How Tooth Decay Develops
If you aren’t cleaning your teeth properly, bacteria feed on the sugars and starches that linger around. The byproducts the bacteria emit form plaque, a sticky film that coats the surface of your teeth. If you still aren’t removing the plaque, the film hardens into a calcified substance called tartar. Tartar is harder to remove from the teeth, creating a shield for the bacteria on your teeth.
The first stages of cavities happen when the acids in plaque start eating away at the enamel layer of your tooth. They create small holes and openings. Once they’re past the enamel, bacteria start working away at the softer inner layer, called dentin. There are small tubes in the dentin layer that directly connect to the nerves of your tooth, causing sensitivity.
Finally, the bacteria make it to the innermost layer of your tooth, the pulp. It’s soft, containing nerves and blood vessels. The tissue swells up, but it’s in a restricted area, and the swelled tissue has nowhere to go. It causes pain by pressing on the nerve, and the pain can radiate throughout the jawbone.
Factors for an Increased Chance of Cavities
Many different factors can make you more susceptible to tooth decay. The biggest is whether you’re brushing and flossing regularly. Without this, bacteria and debris build up on the teeth, causing plaque and tartar. Cavities are the most likely on the back teeth of your mouth. They’re harder to clean because of the location and have more nooks and crannies for food debris to hide in.
Certain foods are more likely to cling to your teeth. They’re always harder to get off of the teeth, even with diligent brushing. Saliva is essential to rinsing your teeth and clearing your smile. Things like dried fruit, cake, and ice cream stick around longer. You’re more likely to encounter problems if, instead of consuming concise meals, you’re snacking and snipping on soda throughout the day. If you drink something acidic all day, your teeth are constantly in an acid bath.
Because saliva is so important, dry mouth is a big factor in getting cavities. It’s there to wash food and plaque away from your teeth, and some of the substances in your saliva help to counteract the bacteria’s acid. Certain medications or medical conditions can cause dry mouth, which makes drinking water even more important. You also need to get enough fluoride, as that’s a substance that strengthens that enamel layer on your teeth.
Both older and younger people are more susceptible. Young children aren’t as adept at brushing their teeth and usually have more sugary diets. Heartburn and eating disorders introduce an influx of acid to your mouth. It wears away the enamel on the teeth faster than it would wear down ordinarily. The more the soft dentin is exposed, the easier it is for tooth decay to get into that pulp layer inside your tooth.
Dental Fillings in Marrero, LA
Dental fillings are a general dentistry treatment to take care of dental caries. Dental bonding is a technique to restore and protect teeth with minor damage or decay. There are many indications for dental bonding, also called tooth bonding or composite bonding, including:
- To repair small cracks and chips
- To rebuild worn edges
- To fill small gaps between teeth
- To correct minor discoloration
- To fill cavities
Dental bonding is an excellent option for tooth-colored dental fillings. Sometimes referred to as “white fillings”, cosmetic dental fillings are the current standard in modern dentistry. A cosmetic dental filling provides excellent protection and strength to the tooth with unmatched aesthetics. Many patients with old metal fillings choose to replace them with white fillings, which are more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Tooth bonding is also ideal for patients with minor cosmetic concerns, such as spaces between the teeth. Rather than using a porcelain restoration such as porcelain veneers, Doctors Burmaster and Hemphill can use dental bonding techniques to quickly and affordably improve the appearance of teeth.
Quick, Easy, Virtually Pain-Free
Typically, dental bonding procedures are completed in a single visit. There is minimal tooth preparation and no messy impressions or uncomfortable impressions. Dental bonding uses a composite resin, a bio-compatible material available in various tooth-colored shades. In general, dental bonding is less expensive than other cosmetic dental procedures. It is often a great choice for young patients with minor damage or cosmetic concerns who are not yet ready for a more permanent option, such as porcelain veneers.
While composite resins are extremely stain-resistant and durable, dental bonding is not a permanent treatment and may need to be touched up. With proper care, tooth bonding can last for several years. Dental bonding is a great option for patients who wish to delay more permanent treatment.
Inlays and Onlays
In some instances, you may have decay that’s too severe to be treated with a dental filling but isn’t severe enough to require a dental crown. When this happens, we may use something called an inlay or onlay. Both of these things are made custom to fit the exact proportions of the necessary treatment area on your tooth. We use impressions to send to a lab where they’re created. They come back to the office, and we fit and bond them to your tooth.
Inlays fit perfectly in the area between the cusps of your teeth, but they don’t impact the cusps at all. An inlay is made from porcelain or a composite material that’s even stronger than that used for dental fillings. When the dentist chooses an inlay restoration for your tooth, it’s because a filling doesn’t give you the proper strength you need. We want you to have full use of your tooth and be able to rely on its structure.
Unlike an inlay, the onlay also extends to the tooth’s cusps. They’re sometimes called partial crowns because they treat a broad surface area. However, they don’t cover the entire thing like crowns do. With dental crowns, we have to remove some of the tooth structure, too, to make room for the crown to fit over the tooth. Inlays only fill in that certain area that directly needs the treatment.
Dental Filling FAQs
Does getting a filling hurt?
The entire area is numbed before we start the filling process. You shouldn’t feel any pain. After the numbness wears off, you may experience some sensitivity and discomfort. This will go away as the filling settles over the next few days.
Why is there sensitivity after a dental filling?
Most likely, it’s because a dental nerve was irritated during the process. Since fillings are inside the tooth, dental nerves can become inflamed or irritated.
When can I eat or drink after getting a filling?
Wait at least an hour before eating or drinking anything after your filling. After that, focus on soft foods and drinks. You should wait 24 hours to attempt to eat harder foods, as these can damage the filling early on.
Can a filling get infected?
Infection is always a possibility with these kinds of procedures. Ensure you’re rinsing your mouth frequently and following your dentist’s aftercare instructions. Any pain and sensitivity in the area should be gone after a few days. If you have pain after then — particularly if it’s getting worse — you may have an infection. Swelling, fever, and deep, throbbing pain are common infection signs. Call us so you can be seen as soon as possible.
Can I brush my teeth after I get a filling?
Yes, you’ll still need to brush and floss your teeth as you would normally. Just ensure that you care for the tooth that’s gotten the filling. Be gentle, and ensure you aren’t pushing too hard in the area where the filling is. You don’t want to damage it or cause it to fall out.
How many times can a tooth be filled?
There isn’t a set number for how many times a filling can be replaced. It becomes a problem once there’s more filling material than natural tooth structure. If so, your tooth becomes too weak to function properly. In this case, we’ll most likely recommend a dental crown or other further restorative procedures for full tooth functionality.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have old fillings or minor cosmetic concerns and think dental fillings might be an option, contact Barataria Dental to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.