How Does the Cavity Filling Process Work?
Over time, our teeth can decay for a number of reasons. Whether it be food, sugary drinks, smoking, etc, it can affect our teeth and start to wear down our enamel. Enamel is a hard, protective covering over your teeth but can be worn down by bacteria or acids. The wearing down of the enamel causes a pit or cavity to form in your tooth.
Foods that contain carbohydrates often cause cavities. Carbohydrates become trapped between teeth and cannot be removed entirely by brushing or flossing. As this substance remains trapped, it begins to create holes, or cavities that must be treated or they grow larger and would eventually destroy the entire tooth.
The most effective treatment for an infected tooth is cavity filling. This procedure will stop any further growth and save your tooth. There are products to help prevent cavities or decay, but once it appears, a cavity needs to be filled. This is how the cavity filling process works.
Locating the Cavity
Your dentist will look for cavities during your regular checkups. They will look for soft spots by probing your gums or use X-rays to see what is between your teeth. A small mirror is also inserted into your mouth to look at all angles of your teeth and look for dark spots. Dark spots indicate a cavity is present.
You may have symptoms of a cavity if you are experiencing pain in one or more of your teeth. This pain can be worse when you eat or drink. A bad odor emitting from your mouth is another sign of tooth decay.
Numbing the Area
Once the cavity is identified and located, your dentist will apply a numbing gel on your gums where a local anesthetic will be injected. You will feel the small sting of the shot of anesthetic as it is applied, but it will only last a couple of seconds. The numbness will last for several hours but will reduce or eliminate pain from the filling process.
Drilling Out the Cavity
Drilling is perhaps the scariest or worse part of the cavity filling process. The local anesthetic will reduce most of the pain, but you may experience slight discomfort. Your dentist has to drill away any decay residing in your tooth to prevent it from spreading. Depending on the size and depth of the cavity determines how long they will have to drill.
Drilling is one form of removing the decay from your tooth. Other methods include lasers or air abrasion instruments. Air abrasion is a newer procedure used for smaller cavities.
Once the decay is removed, your tooth needs to be restored. This restoration is called the cavity filling process and is a permanent procedure to repair your tooth. A filling of amalgam or composite is used to replace the area of your tooth the decay has eaten away. This procedure can be completed with just one office visit.
This material is placed into the hole drilled by the dentist and then sanded down. The sanding is done to restore the tooth as close as possible to its original shape and size. After the filling has been sanded down to the proper size, it will then be polished. Some materials such as composite resin, need to be hardened under ultraviolet light before being polished.
As a finishing touch to the cavity filling process, your dentist will check your bite to make sure there are no other modifications needed.
When replacing a cavity, or undergoing any other oral procedure, it is extremely important to seek out the help of a highly reviewed, highly experienced dentist. Dr. Rashti is that dentist. If you are feeling pain in your mouth and you believe it to be a cavity or any other issue. We encourage you to come in for a consultation. You can do so by clicking the button below or calling (310) 623 – 3330.