The bacteria that live in plaque are always looking for a safer place to live. Nothing provides shelter from toothbrush bristles, floss, and mouth rinses like the inside of your tooth! A “cavity” refers to the cavitation that the bacteria create in a tooth to gain entry. Once inside, the bacteria progress through the enamel into the softer tissue underneath. This process is usually painless until the bacteria have gotten very close to the pulp in the center of the tooth. Because of this, it can go unnoticed by the patient until the tooth badly damaged, and may not be reparable through a simple filling. Cleanings and exams become a critical part in detecting these cavities early so that they can be treated and filled. The treatment of a cavity includes removal of the diseased tissue, and filling the tooth with a tooth colored composite plastic filling. This filling restores the outer surface of the tooth to it’s original form, often times making it easier to clean, and thus less susceptible to cavities than it was before.
Other names for composite fillings include resin fillings, white fillings, and bonding. The whole filling procedure usually takes about an hour.
Composite fillings are also what dentists use to repair small cavities or chips in front teeth, as well as fill cavities cosmetically in back teeth.