Cavities are preventable for many people. They’re caused by tooth decay, which is often the result of poor oral hygiene habits, dislodged dental fillings or even digestive issues. Tooth decay usually appears when bacteria combine with sugar particles left in your mouth. The result is a substance called plaque that begins to eat away at the hard, outer layer of your tooth’s enamel.
This process eventually leads to pits or holes in your teeth that are susceptible to further decay. Untreated, plaque can become tartar, which is impossible to remove with just a toothbrush. Once bacteria penetrate your enamel, you may begin to feel pain. An infection inside your tooth can cause even more intense pain.
Causes and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
In addition to poor dental hygiene and acid reflux, other habits can contribute to the formation of plaque and tartar. These lifestyle choices include:
- Frequent snacking
- Eating sugary or starchy foods
- Smoking cigarettes
Symptoms of a cavity may include sensitivity to cold or sweets, having damaged or broken teeth, tooth pain, or chewing problems. Once you start feeling pain in your mouth, you need to make an appointment with a dentist like Dr. John Koutsoyiannis at SoHo dental practice. If you maintain a schedule of biannual appointments, an attentive dentist like Dr. John can spot tooth decay early and treat it before it gets painful.
Time to Call Your New York Dentist!
Stop the process of decay in the early stages with an exam and a professional cleaning, followed by proper at-home care. Tooth decay leaves signs that your family dentist can identify, even if you can’t. And once plaque turns into tartar, only your dentist can remove it to protect your teeth.
When Soho doctor Dr. John performs a cavity filling procedure, he removes the decayed part of your tooth. The next step uses some form of filling material to protect the tooth cavity or hole in your tooth from doing more damage and causing further pain.
You have several options for cavity filling material, but many New Yorkers prefer — and cosmetic dentists recommend — the aesthetically pleasing look of composite fillings. At Sohosmile, we’re an amalgam-free practice.
Amalgam vs. Composite Filling Material
Materials for cavity filling include gold, porcelain, and composite resin. Gold and porcelain are the most expensive options. When it comes to amalgam vs. composite fillings, the biggest difference is their appearance. A comparison of amalgam vs. composite material includes:
- Amalgam. You may be familiar with the silver-and-mercury or amalgam fillings. Strong and durable, amalgam fillings used to be the only option for many family dentists. Some still use this method.
- Composite. This filling material sits at the intersection between affordability, durability and appearance. Advances in composite filling material have made it stronger and easier to manage, but it still requires a high level of skill and technology to place correctly. Composite fillings require less drilling because the material bonds directly to your tooth. It resembles your other teeth in color and texture, too.
When you consider its natural look and composite fillings cost, which isn’t much higher than amalgam fillings, you realize that comparing amalgam vs. composite fillings leaves little room for doubt. And how long do composite fillings last? From five to 10 years or more, which compares favorably to other filling materials.
Procedure for a Composite Filling
Dr. John’s experience in cavity filling makes the procedure quick and relatively painless. The sooner he detects your tooth cavity, the easier and less invasive the procedure. After a thorough assessment of your teeth and gums, including a cleaning, he and his team:
- Take x-rays and uses CariVu™ technology to determine the depth of the cavity and assess the surrounding tissue
- Give you a local anesthetic, first with topical gel and then with a syringe
- Use a drill to remove the decayed tooth material
- Clean out the cavity to provide a smooth surface for the composite filling to bond
- Insert a protective liner over your tooth’s nerve, if the decay is too close to the root
- Build up several layers of composite filling in the tooth cavity, using a blue spectrum light between layers to harden them
- Clean, shape and polish the composite material to make the most natural appearance and functional tooth possible