While restorative dental options abound, tooth fillings remain the leading choice in repairing small areas of decay. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92% of American adults between the ages of 20-64 have experienced some level of tooth decay. At Philip Cook, DDS, LLC, patients from in and around Wilmette, Illinois, depend on Dr. Philip E. Cook and Dr. Philip M. Cook to address existing tooth decay and prevent additional deterioration. If you believe you have one or more dental cavities, schedule an appointment to determine if you need fillings.
The human mouth houses a vast array of bacteria, some beneficial and some incredibly harmful to your teeth. If you allow bacteria to linger, it can eat away at the surface of one or more of your teeth.
Doing so creates cavities, which are pockets or holes in your teeth. Unless you get those cavities adequately cleaned and filled, decay can continue and sometimes even accelerate.
Dental fillings are used to seal off areas of decay. You have several options in the type of material used to create your dental fillings.
Amalgam fillings are silver in color and are the most commonly used filling material. Amalgam is often used to fill cavities in rear teeth, as they’re more noticeable in color.
Porcelain fillings can provide an exact match to your natural tooth color. They’re more expensive than amalgam fillings but are a popular choice for people who want virtually indistinguishable fillings.
Composite resin fillings are made from a type of plastic colored to match surrounding tooth tissue. However, a composite resin can become stained and doesn’t last as long as other filling options.
Gold fillings are incredibly durable but are also the most expensive filling option. Gold is well-tolerated by your gum tissue and offers a distinct look.
The first step in getting dental fillings is a comprehensive dental exam. During that process, Dr. Cook determines if your teeth have been affected by decay.
If he discovers decay, he administers a local anesthetic to ensure you remain comfortable throughout the process. Next, he removes the decay using a specialized dental drill and preserves as much healthy tissue as possible. He cleans the area before filling the cavity with the desired material.
Depending on the material used, the final step might involve the use of a special light to harden the filling surface or careful filing of any rough areas.
Once your fillings are in place, it’s essential to establish and maintain good oral hygiene habits. Doing so helps your fillings last longer and also prevents new instances of decay.
Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day using a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing and using antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day is also important for maintaining great oral health.
If you believe your filling is damaged, dislodged, or is otherwise not functioning properly, you should schedule an appointment so Dr. Cook can evaluate the area.