How a Tooth Filling Works

how a tooth filling worksTreating cavities is one of the most common things a general dentist does for his patients. That’s because cavities are among the most commonly occurring dental issues, and if not treated, they can cause severe damage to your teeth and the rest of your oral health. In many cases, the optimal choice for restoring a cavity-stricken tooth is with a tooth filling, which works by restoring the tooth structure you’ve lost to tooth decay and protecting what remains from further infection.

Treating a Cavity

A cavity is a hole in your tooth, and since it’s caused by tooth decay (an infection resulting from excessive oral bacteria), the hole grows as decay progresses. If caught and addressed early, a cavity can usually be treated by carefully removing the bacteria and infected tooth structure from the cavity, then “filling” it with tooth-colored composite resin.

The purpose of tooth fillings is two-fold; by replacing your lost tooth structure, the restoration reestablishes your tooth’s strength and structural integrity. Also, bonding the material to your tooth creates a seal so that oral bacteria cannot once again infect your tooth and make your cavity worse.

Why Composite Resin Makes a Better Filling

Many of today’s tooth fillings are made from biocompatible composite resin or ceramic. However, there are still patients who receive, or who have previously received, fillings made from metal amalgam. Metal fillings are strong, but possess properties that can make them a liability to your healthy tooth structure, such as the tendency to change shape and the inability to bond securely to the tooth.

By contrast, tooth-colored fillings provide a more beautifully discreet alternative. The material also protects the tooth better by retaining its shape and its strong original bond with your tooth’s structure.