Tooth decay (dental caries) occurs when the hard outer surface of your tooth (enamel) is damaged by acid produced by bacteria in your mouth. When the tooth decay breaks down the enamel, it begins to form a little hole called a cavity. Left untreated, this small cavity can turn into a large cavity and can lead to more extensive dental treatment like a root canal. 

These bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugars and starches from the food and drinks we consume. Acids are the byproduct of these bacteria when they come in contact with sugar. These constant acid attacks breakdown the minerals in the enamel of your teeth eventually leading to a cavity. This is why it’s important to stay away from sugary drinks and foods, eat healthy foods, limit snacking, brush twice a day for 2 minutes each brush, floss once a day, and stay on your routine dental cleaning visits. 

Dental fillings are used to replace tooth structure once the tooth has been damaged by tooth decay. Once the tooth decay is removed, the area is isolated, cleaned, and prepared to place tooth-colored filling material (composite resin) and restore the tooth back to pain free function. 

When using composite resin filling material, it is very important to keep the tooth isolated and dry. There are several steps to clean and prepare the surface of the tooth. Once the tooth is prepared, the composite resin filling material is placed in the cavity preparation. 

A bright visible blue light called a curing light is used to harden the composite resin filling. This takes a few seconds and gives the composite resin the hardened strength it needs to last in the mouth. Our dentists will then shape the dental filling into its proper form and function, then polish, leaving you with a beautiful, natural looking restoration. Many patients ask, “These fillings will look like my natural teeth, right? Not that silver stuff?” That “silver stuff” is called dental amalgam and for decades was the most popular dental filling material. Dental amalgam is a mixture of liquid mercury and a metal alloy that is mixed together and packed into your tooth to fill the cavity. Dental amalgam is still an option for dental filling materials, but we do not use amalgam dental fillings at BR Dentistry.

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