Fillings are among the most common restorations used today, and they serve a vital function. A beautiful smile is a great social asset, as well as a source of pride and confidence. A healthy mouth is essential to whole-body health. Placing a filling as soon as decay begins can provide full cosmetic and functional restoration, as well as preventing the problem from spreading.

Causes of decay

Many people postpone treatment, thinking that a small cavity is a small problem. However, without treatment, the cavity and risk to your oral health will continue to grow. Dental caries (decay) is a condition caused by bacteria, which mix with saliva and food particles to form an acidic biofilm coating the teeth. When it first develops, this film, known a plaque, is soft and sticky.

Plaque is easily removed from with a soft toothbrush and floss, if you use them regularly. However, some tooth surfaces may not be accessible, especially if you have untreated malocclusion or other dental problems. Any plaque that remains on your teeth will turn to a hard substance called calculus or tartar.

The acid produced by these bacteria softens tooth enamel, eventually chewing through it to the dentin layer. Decay spreads faster in this softer layer than it does in the enamel, creating a pit, or cavity. Due to the rough texture and partially decayed tooth material, it is virtually impossible to clean the bacteria and biofilm from a cavity. It continues spreading, often beneath the surface, eventually reaching the inner chamber of the tooth.

Treatment

To stop the spread of dental caries, the decayed tissue needs to be removed and the cavity sealed. The method depends on the extent of decay. If caught early, only a small filling will be needed. At Eastland Dental Center, we use the innovative DiagnoDent cavity detection system. If you maintain your regular dental checkups, we can discover potential decay before it is even visible, for the earliest possible treatment.

A small cavity is easily treated with a composite filling. The compromised tooth material is gently removed, and a small amount of filling material is placed. It is colored to match your tooth perfectly, for an indistinguishable restoration. The special bonding agent gives these fillings superior strength and longevity compared to many other, less attractive, alternatives.

If decay is allowed to spread, the pulp inside of your tooth can become infected. At this point, a filling is no longer a viable option; you will need a root canal procedure to stop the pain and eliminate the infection. Although we offer a wide range of options to restore, or even replace teeth, our goal is to keep them healthy in the first place. Don’t postpone dental treatment. Call us at (309) 663-4711 today and schedule an appointment with Dr. Mike Milligan.

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