Fillings are used to repair a hole in a tooth caused by decay. The most common type of filling is an amalgam, made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc. At The Exeter Dental Centre we offer Venus Diamond White Fillings – a state of the art innovative formula that has been chosen by our clinicians to provide durable and aesthetically excellent restorations.
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, they will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled.
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a check-up, we will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. We may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.
The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods, or even starches such as rice, the bacteria use them as food, too. The bacteria then produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth). It’s not just sugar we’re talking about, all carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars.
Bacteria in your mouth turn the sugars in these foods into acids. These acids begin to dissolve the mineral crystals in teeth. The more times you eat each day, the more times your teeth are exposed to an acid attack.
This attack can lead to tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities. First, the acid begins to dissolve calcium and phosphate crystals inside a tooth. A white spot may appear on the enamel in this weakened area. But the loss of minerals develops beneath the surface of the enamel. The surface may still be smooth.
At this stage, the tooth can be repaired with the help of fluoride, proteins and minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the saliva. The saliva also helps reduce the acid levels from bacteria that attack the tooth.
Once the decay breaks through the enamel to cause a cavity, the damage is permanent. A dentist must clean out the decay and fill the cavity. Left untreated, the decay will get worse. It can destroy a tooth all the way through the enamel, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. That’s why it is important to treat caries at a very early stage, when the process can be reversed.