Tooth decay and cavities are quickly found during a routine dental appointment. Once detected, your dentist will remove the decayed material, clean the affected area, then fill the cavity with a composite resin, an amalgam, or a porcelain/ceramic restoration. On occasions when a dental filling is insufficient to repair tooth decay, a dental crown, implant, bridge, or root canal may be required. With regular check-ups your dentist can detect any problems early and prevent a more costly procedure.
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with composite.
Tooth fillings usually last for many years before they need to be replaced. But tooth fillings can wear out over years of chewing. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need to have tooth fillings replaced sooner. If you notice signs of wear on your tooth fillings, such as cracks or worn areas, see your dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible. Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause the tooth to crack and require additional repair that is more expensive and more complicated than a simple cavity filling. If additional tooth decay develops around a filling, whether or not the filling is damaged, your dentist may choose to repair the tooth with a crown instead of a second cavity filling.