Despite best efforts to follow our dentist’s advice, nearly 90% of adults in the United States will have at least one cavity in their lifetime. And, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of adults currently have at least one untreated cavity. Unfortunately, you might not even know you have a cavity and if left untreated, you can experience significant health issues and complications.
So what exactly is a cavity and how do you treat it? A cavity is another way to describe tooth decay, which occurs when your tooth’s enamel (the protective outer layer of your teeth) is destroyed. If left untreated, this decay can spread to other nearby teeth, causing massive pain and discomfort.
Now that we’ve established the basics about cavities, let’s talk about how to treat them! The common treatment for cavities is called a filling — the process of literally filling up the tooth with a specific type of material that will restore its function and prevent any further damage to the tooth.
While it might sound a bit daunting, fillings are one of the most common dental procedures and relatively painless. And the benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience of scheduling an appointment and making time for the treatment.
The benefits of fillings
If left untreated, a cavity can lead to an infection in the tooth, known as a tooth abscess. If an untreated cavity is made worse by a poor diet, your teeth can be seriously damaged and the infection can spread to nearby teeth, making the situation even worse. Unfortunately, cavities will not just go away on their own.
With a filling, you can avoid this damage and solve the problem pretty quickly and cost-efficiently. A few other benefits include:
- Dental fillings look very natural and blend right in with your natural teeth, eliminating any embarrassment or potential cosmetic flaws.
- Fillings can improve the function of your teeth, strengthening a weakened tooth and making chewing less painful.
- Fillings can last up to 15 years so once you’ve addressed the problem, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about it for a long time after.
The process of getting a filling
So how does the process of getting a filing actually work? Once your dentist decides which type of filling you need (Gold, Amalgam (silver), Composite Resin, Porcelain) based on the condition of the tooth, any allergies the patient might have, and budget, the actual procedure is quite quick and painless.
Typically, local anesthesia is offered to numb the area first. Then, the dentist will use a drill to remove the decay. Depending on the extent of the decay, this may involve more than one type of drill though that is likely unnoticeable by the patient. The actual filling process will vary based on the type of filling but overall, the dentist will shape the tooth and apply the filling, ensuring that it is tightly bonded to the tooth and smooth. Special tools are used to polish the tooth and eliminate any sharp edges.
The entire process usually takes about an hour and most patients can resume their normal routines after the appointment. Some might find the recently filled tooth to be sensitive to extremely hot or cold temperatures for a short period of time but this typically resolves after a few weeks.
If you’re in the Escondido, California area and are experiencing any type of dental pain or discomfort, contact our office to schedule a consultation and start smiling more today!