Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel and the dentin layers of the tooth.
What are the causes of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (starches and sugars)–such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, and fruits–turns into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities, or caries. To remove decay and restore tooth structure, a filling needs to be done. There are two types of restorations we use to fill cavities; they are called amalgam, and composite fillings.
Dental amalgam fillings are sometimes called “silver” fillings. They are the most common type of filling used in Canada today. Because these fillings are silver in colour, they are used to fill cavities on the back teeth. They are a mix of metals such as mercury, silver, copper, and tin. The advantages of this type of filling are that they are the least expensive filling and they last a long time. They are easy to put in place because they are a direct filling, one visit to your dentist will do the job in most cases. The disadvantage of this type of filling is that there are tiny amounts of mercury released from the filling when you chew. For most people, this bit of mercury is nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that amalgam fillings do not cause illness. They have been used on people for more than 150 years.
Composite fillings are also called “white” fillings. Getting this type of filling used to depend on where the tooth is in your mouth. We bite down hard on our back teeth, so a white filling was not be a good choice in the past. The technology associated with the new composite fillings, in recent years, has made this type of material, both acceptable and even preferable for both large and small restorations. To place this filling, your dentist cleans all decay from the tooth, and puts a glue (or bonding material) on the inside of the prepared area. Composite resin is then put into the preparation in thin layers. Each layer is then set with the help of a special blue light that your dentist holds over the tooth. When the last layer of the filling is hard, the dentist shapes the filling so it looks and feels natural.
Contact our office at 604 585 4044 to find out how you can help prevent tooth decay or visit our preventative care page.