Almost every New Yorker has had a cavity at one time or another. Most children get them when they eat too much candy and don’t brush well enough. Of course, adults aren’t immune from the tooth pain a cavity can cause. In general, tooth decay has reached crisis proportions in the U.S.
The most common way to address decay is a cavity filling or tooth filling. But a filling can also treat cracked or fractured teeth in some instances. A filling requires that the tooth affected is still structurally sound. If not, a root canal or an extraction may be needed. That’s why you must seek out a family dentist for treatment when you first feel pain.
The treatment you receive depends on the severity of the damage. Most tooth decay occurs over time from a poor diet and improper hygiene routine. But some decay may be caused by medications, medical conditions, a blow or an accident. Another factor is how long you’ve been living with tooth pain; the longer you go without treatment, the more severe your condition.
Another factor affecting your tooth filling is where the tooth is located. A front tooth filling requires more care, while a back tooth filling is inherently easier to manage. The color and material of the filling also determines its usefulness.
For front tooth filling vs. back tooth filling, you have a choice of materials for the filling. Most dental practices, including CitiDental, no longer rely on the silver-colored amalgam material — not because it isn’t safe, but because there are better tooth filling options available today, including:
Both onlays and inlays are a type of filling known as an indirect filling. They’re custom-made to fit your teeth. Like crowns, they’re fabricated in a lab and may take several weeks before your dentist has them ready for you. As a result, you must return to your dentist to have the molded filling cemented into place.
The difference between inlays and onlays has to do with how much of your existing tooth structure they cover. A dental inlay covers about the same area of a tooth as a filling does, but the inlay is stronger and lasts longer. A dental onlay protects more of your tooth, extending to what’s called the cusp of your tooth — the biting surface, where the top of one tooth meets the top of its opposite.
Fillings, dental inlays and onlays fill the space left after decay is removed from a tooth. All allow you to keep your natural tooth. Inlays and onlays are more expensive, but are molded from stronger material than tooth fillings. The last resort is a crown, which saves and protects a natural tooth, but it requires that your dentist remove a lot of the tooth’s enamel.
Your CitiDental professional examines your teeth and gums to find the cavity. You may need an x-ray. If it needs a cavity filling, your dentist numbs the tooth area and gets rid of all the decay. If the resulting pocket is small enough, you just need a filling, and the dentist fills the cavity with the chosen material, after which it’s filed and polished.
If you need an inlay or onlay, your dentist makes an impression of your tooth to send to a lab. You get a temporary filling in the meantime. The lab fabricates the piece and sends it back. When you return to CitiDental, the permanent piece is set and cemented into place.
During this painless process, you can get sedation dentistry, although you rarely need it for such a relatively simple procedure. In the end, your tooth is stronger than before, but you still need to take care of it — and the rest of your teeth — to maintain your dental health.