Dental Fillings Can Save Your Teeth In The Long Run

Dental Fillings Can Save Your Teeth In The Long Run

With the percentage of adults who have cavities at 91 percent (Center for Disease Control), it’s not a matter of if but when you will need a dental filling. While few people look forward to a dental filling, the treatment can preserve your smile.

WHEN YOU NEED A FILLING

Dental fillings are needed when tooth decay has occurred. Decay is caused by bacteria in your mouth becomes acidic and it eats away at the tooth. The decay creates little holes called cavities. The longer decay goes undetected, the deeper the cavity extends from the enamel into the dentin and then into the pulp which causes considerable pain and sensitivity. At this point, your tooth is diseased and it needs to fixed or the damage will worsen.

HOW FILLINGS PRESERVE TEETH

Fillings are a common solution for treating cavities. They serve several purposes:

  • They replace the enamel that has been lost. This is why dental fillings are sometimes referred to as dental restorations — they restore what is missing. Common materials used in fillings include amalgam, resin, gold and ceramic. Before your dentist does the filling, they will remove all diseased material and then replace it.
  • They preserve tooth shape and structure. Often cavities become so large that they cause the tooth to fracture and break off.
  • They prevent further decay and block out bacteria.

Fillings do not last forever though. According to the Journal of Dentistry, the average amalgam filling has a lifespan of 12.8 years and the average composite resin filling lasts for 7.8 years. When a filling is worn down it cavities can form in the tiny crevices. Regular dentist appointments and good oral hygiene can lengthen the lifetime of your filling. Your dentist can inspect your filling for any issues and x-rays reveal cavities beneath the filling that may have formed.

FILLINGS PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE

It is always preferable to detect a cavity at the stage where it can be fixed with a filling as opposed to letting it get to the point where a crown is necessary. Crowns are more involved and time intensive. If a cavity is allowed to decay beyond the point that a crown can fix it, a root canal or extraction and dental implant may be necessary. Each of these procedures is increasingly more expensive and requires more time spent at the dentist’s office. Each treatment also has the potential for complications, infections and the disturbance of other surrounding healthy teeth.

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