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Dental Fillings

Dental Fillings In Alexandria, VA - Alexandria Dentistry

Tooth decay occurs when acids produced by bacteria and sugar break down the structure of the teeth. The protective outer layer, called the enamel, is the first portion of the tooth to be affected. If the decay continues, it can reach the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth and cause pain and infection. Early stages of decay, called cavities or caries, can be treated with fillings.

What are Dental Fillings?

A filling is a material that takes the place of the structure of the tooth that has been damaged by cavities. Dentists treat cavities by first numbing the location where the work will be performed, then removing the decay with a series of handheld tools. This leaves an indentation that would otherwise leave the tooth vulnerable to more problems, so a filling seals off the inside of the tooth and reshapes the outside. The filling material is soft and pliable at first but is hardened with a curing light after the application is complete. The process of removing the decay and filling the cavity typically takes at least a half-hour, depending on the severity and location of the cavity.

Tooth fillings - Alexandria Dentistry

Traditionally, fillings have been made from a material called amalgam, which is made of several types of metals, including tin, copper, silver, and mercury. For 150 years, amalgam has been the easiest and most long-lasting cavity filling material available, but there have been recent health concerns over the inclusion of mercury. Industry research has shown that mercury's chemical makeup changes when mixed with other metals; the exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings has been proven to be less than what is contained in the air we breathe and the food we eat.

If you just found out that you have a cavity, you may be wondering how we plan to treat the issue. Fortunately, through routine cleanings every six months we are more likely to detect these issues when they are only a slight inconvenience rather than a serious problem. Having a cavity is no fun but a dental filling can restore the tooth after decay has been removed.

A dental filling uses special material to fill the spaces where decay has been removed to restore the tooth to its nature appearance and strength. While the tooth-colored resin used for a dental filling may also be used for purely cosmetic reasons such as hiding a small discoloration, chip or gap between your teeth, in most cases a dental filling is used to treat a cavity.

If you have a cavity the first thing we will need to do is remove the decay. We will first numb the area with numbing gel and then local anesthesia so that you don’t feel any discomfort during your procedure. Next, we will use a dental drill to remove the decaying areas of your tooth. Once we have checked to make sure all decay has been removed then we will begin to rebuild the tooth using a dental filling.

As you may already know, a dental filling can be made from different materials. For purely aesthetic reasons, most patients opt for tooth-colored fillings made from composite resin. If you choose a tooth-colored filling we can choose the shade of the resin to match the tooth so that the dental filling isn’t visible. Of course, metal fillings are still used today because they are more resilient than even tooth-colored fillings and can be a better option for molars and back teeth, which take on more force and pressure from the jaws when chewing and speaking.

If you are getting a composite resin filling we will apply the moldable resin in layers. Each layer will then be hardened immediately using a special dental light. We will continue to apply layer after layer until the tooth is completely filled. Once the last layer is hardened we may still need to trim the filling before giving it a final polish.

If you have questions about getting a dental filling or worry that you may have a cavity then it’s time you called our Alexandria, VA dental office at (703) 751-3880.

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