If you visit our Langley office regularly for dental checkups, we can spot cavities early on and take action right away. The sooner we treat a cavity, the better the outcome for your tooth. So it pays to come in for regular dental checkups.
Extra sensitivity to cold, hot or sugary foods and drinks
Continual aching in the tooth
A pit or hole in the tooth
Some cavities develop gradually and do not cause any pain or other symptoms, which is why dental X-rays can be very helpful. While you may not experience any discomfort, we can find these dental cavities before they start causing more significant problems during a regular exam and teeth cleaning. Without routine dental exams, symptom-free cavities can progress into root canals or tooth extractions. Alternatively, some cavities can abscess and cause severe pain resulting in a dental emergency.
What Causes Cavities?
Harmful bacteria are the root cause of dental cavities. Your mouth is home to many types of bacteria. Some types of bacteria are beneficial, while others produce acid and harm your teeth.
Two types of bacteria are especially harmful to your dental health: Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus mutans.
Both types of bacteria form dental plaque, and they feed on the sugar you eat or drink. If plaque builds up and isn’t removed by brushing or the saliva in your mouth, then cavities may start to form, and your mouth becomes more acidic.
If left untreated, the acidity eventually starts dissolving minerals and destroying the enamel of your teeth. It begins with small erosions and holes, but the damage grows over time and more minerals are removed from the tooth in a process called demineralization.
Fortunately, your saliva contains essential minerals like phosphate and calcium, which will help remineralize your teeth and reverse some of the dental destruction. In addition, fluoride and water can further help restore lost minerals and strengthen your teeth.
If cavities are left untreated, they can progress down into deeper layers of the tooth. When the damage becomes too great, the only option is to remove the tooth. If we catch the damage early on, a dental composite filling may be the ideal solution, or if the cavity has progressed to far we move to a more advanced solutions like dental crowns, porcelain veneers or dental bridges.
Types of Fillings for Repairing a Tooth
Composite fillings are one of the most popular dentistry options with our Langley patients, but there are also other types of dental composite fillings and options for cavities in dentistry. It’s essential to understand all of your options before deciding on how to treat your cavities as there are several different types of dental fillings to choose from, including:
An amalgam filling is made from a combination of silver, mercury, copper and tin. For many years in dentistry, this dental alloy was the most popular option, and amalgam is still the primary choice for fillings in many parts of the world but not in Canada.
One benefit of amalgam fillings is that they’re highly durable and can last up to 15 years. In addition, they’re affordable compared to other dental filling materials, and they're easy to place because the tooth doesn’t need to be clean and dry during the dental procedure.
Amalgam restorations aren’t as popular as they once were. They’re not tooth-coloured, so most patients prefer a more natural-looking tooth option.
Because dental amalgam contains mercury, many people are afraid that they will have a negative impact on their health. However, the American Dental Association has determined that these fillings are both “viable and safe.” A 2014 review also found that there was insufficient evidence that dental amalgam fillings caused any adverse side effects, but more research on amalgam is needed to verify these claims.
Composite fillings are one of the most popular options within our range of dental services and that’s because they look so natural. Unlike other dental materials, composite fillings can be shaded and customized to match the natural white colour of your teeth.
Most patients find that a white composite filling looks exactly like the rest of their teeth.
Composite filling material is a mixture of acrylic resin that’s reinforced with quartz and glass filler.
Although not as popular as other types of fillings, a ceramic dental filling is durable, long-lasting and also a white filling. These fillings incorporate porcelain and can last more than a decade. However, they are very expensive and require multiple visits for installation.
As you may have guessed, gold dental fillings are more expensive than other types of dental fillings. However, while they do come at a higher cost, gold fillings can last 20 years or more. Some patients also like the look of these fillings.
In most cases, gold fillings will require at least two visits. But because these fillings require a special technique to install and lab resources are limited, gold fillings aren’t as popular as they once were.
Just as the name suggests, glass ionomer fillings are made from a special glass filler. These fillings are tooth-coloured white fillings, so they naturally blend in with your smile. Another advantage of glass ionomer fillings is that they slowly release fluoride, which reduces the risk of new cavities developing in the future.
The biggest drawback of these dental fillings is that they’re not as durable or as long-lasting as amalgam fillings.
What are the Benefits of a Composite Filling?
While there are many dental options for fillings at Blue Water Dental, many of our Langley patients ultimately choose composite filling material because it's:
Dental composite fillings can fix both large and small cavities. And unlike with other types of dental fillings, temperature sensitivity is brief and mild after the procedure. We can also use composites for inserting dental implant crowns and as buttons for Invisalign treatment. Because these buttons match the shade of your teeth they are relatively invisible.
What are the Drawbacks of a Composite Filling?
While there are many advantages of composite fillings, there are also drawbacks, such as.
Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam dental fillings
Application takes longer because layers are required
The teeth must be very dry during the placement
How Long Does a Composite Filling Last?
Although they are durable, composite fillings have a shorter lifespan compared to other filling materials. Research shows that these types of fillings can last 7-10 years if you take care of them. But if you’re at a very high risk of developing cavities, you may not get quite as many years out of your fillings.
What Factors Affect White Composite Fillings?
The life span of a filling will depend on several factors, but your diet and oral hygiene are the most influential. Sugary drinks and foods are the biggest issues. Sugar, as you know, feeds acid-forming bacteria that lead to cavities, and it also makes it easy for biofilms to form on your fillings and nearby teeth.
As a result, new cavities can form underneath your fillings as well as other healthy teeth like wisdom teeth. Hard foods are another problem. Biting down on nuts, candy, ice and hard foods can damage your dental fillings and reduce their lifespan.
What to Expect During the Composite Fillings Procedure at our Langley Clinic
In most cases, composite fillings are quick and simple to place at our Langley office. The process can typically be completed in one visit. Here’s how the dental procedure works:
The first step is to work on the colour of the composite filling. Our team will select the shade of your dental composite at the beginning of your visit before your teeth dry out.
Next, we will inject a numbing agent for the local anesthetic to numb your tooth.
Once the area is numb, we will start drilling into your tooth enamel to remove the decay.
The next step is to clean and dry out the area. If the decay is extensive, we may need to shave some of the tooth enamel and dentin.
Once the area is clean and dry, we can etch and bond the tooth.
Next, we will layer the material into the tooth and cure the filling using a light. Each layer will need to be cured, so the process can take some time.
After all of the layers are applied and cured, we will shape, contour and polish the tooth.
Finally, we will check to ensure that your bite is proper and that you feel comfortable with your new composite fillings.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
The great thing about traditional dental fillings is that the recovery period is minimal. Your tooth may feel a little more sensitive than usual after the anesthetic wears off. In most cases, this dental filling discomfort only lasts a day or two. Some patients have some additional cold sensitivity after the procedure, which can last up to a few weeks. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the sensitivity, including:
Chewing on the opposite side of the mouth for a week or two
Avoiding foods and drinks that are hot or cold
Being extra-gentle when brushing and flossing around the treated tooth
Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs
Some patients find that tooth composite fillings aren’t the right solution for them. Others want to weigh all of their options and consider filling alternatives. The best solution is to prevent tooth decay in the first place, but if you’re already past that stage, there are some advancements in the dental field that give you more options for treating cavities.
Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF
SDF is a type of antibiotic liquid applied to a sensitive tooth or has signs of decay. The SDF solution can help prevent further decay. However, if the damage is too extensive, a traditional filling may be the only viable option.
Dental Cavities in Children – Causes, Prevention and Treatment
About 23% of children in Canada have at least one untreated cavity. Cavities are a common dental problem among children because they may not be brushing or flossing correctly.
Like adults, children should be brushing their teeth for at least two minutes, twice per day. But, unfortunately, many children only brush once per day or not at all. Adult supervision is important and can help with the prevention of cavities. Children are unable to brush alone and unsupervised until they are six years old.
Flossing is also important for kids, as cavities can form from plaque build-up in between teeth. However, because flossing can be difficult for children, parents also need to step in and help or demonstrate proper flossing techniques.
Routine dentistry checkups are also important. Kids who don’t see their dentists regularly may be at a higher risk of cavities. We can detect dental cavities early on, educate kids on how to brush and floss and even offer treatments or procedures to help prevent decay.
Another common cause of cavities in children is diet. Sugary foods and drinks and carbohydrates can all accelerate tooth decay by increasing plaque formation. Some experts believe that some people are genetically disposed to cavities, but more research is needed to verify this claim.
Treating Teeth Cavities in Children
We recommend tooth composite fillings as a common way to treat cavities in toddlers and children. Dental fillings can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. Dental fillings can be placed on teeth in children as young as 1 or 2 years of age. Even with baby teeth, it’s important to do everything possible to save the tooth. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adult tooth may not come in properly. Fillings are one option for treating cavities in children, but dental crowns are another option.
If the tooth is badly damaged or there’s an dental infection in the tooth, extraction may be the only option. If a baby tooth is removed, we may install a space maintainer to ensure that the adult tooth grows in properly. Performing dental procedures on children can be challenging, but we can use sedation to make the dental procedure a little easier and less stressful.
You may also have the option of orally sedating your child. For very young children, general anesthesia may be the best option. When children have multiple cavities, it’s typically best to spread out their appointments over time. Having to perform lengthy procedures can be stressful and difficult for some children. Breaking up appointments can put kids at ease and make things a little easier.
Preventing Teeth Cavities in Children
Establishing a good oral hygiene routine early on can help prevent cavities in children. It’s important to monitor your child’s brushing and flossing habits to ensure they’re doing it correctly.
Like adults, kids should be brushing for at least two minutes and at least twice per day. They should also be flossing at least once per day. Schedule routine dental appointments with us every six months.
Even with infants, it’s important to start practicing good oral hygiene habits. They may not have teeth, but germs can still affect their oral health. Wipe down your little one’s gums with a soft cloth after each feeding.
When your baby’s teeth do start coming in, brush gently with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste that’s made for children.
Your child’s diet can also help prevent cavities. Instead of sugary foods and drinks, try offering yogurt, fruits, vegetables, granola bars or nuts as snacks.
Cavities can affect everyone, including toddlers. Understanding the causes of cavities and how to prevent them can help you avoid them – and fillings – in the first place. But if you do develop cavities, composite fillings or another type of filling can help restore your smile and prevent the decay from getting worse.