Uptown Dental offers a variety of restorative and preventive dental services, each designed to optimize your dental health. We want to make sure your smile lasts for many years to come.
Your goal each time you visit Dr. Lenz for a checkup is not to hear those dreaded four words - you have a cavity. Many of us, though, won't be so lucky. Fortunately, there are ways to combat cavities when they start and help prevent further damage. Tooth fillings help do just that.
What are fillings?
Dental fillings are a type of tooth restoration that rid damaged areas of decaying material and fill the affected cavity with either amalgam (silver) or composite (white) material. When Dr. Lenz gives you a filling, he will remove the decayed material from your tooth, clean the area and replace the missing tooth with the filling material to prevent further decay.
Silver vs White
When it comes to the filling material that will replace the cavity in your damaged tooth, there are a couple of options to choose from at Uptown Dental.
Silver fillings are made of durable amalgam so they are resistant to wear and tear and typically last about 10 to 15 years. These are the most inexpensive option for fillings, however, they are also the most noticeable because of their darker color. For this reason, some patients choose to use this material only for less visible teeth like molars.
White or tooth-colored fillings are made of a composite resin mixed to match your natural tooth color and placed directly into the cavity and hardens. Composite fillings are not as resilient as silver fillings and typically last 3-10 years. They may also chip or wear over time so they are not generally recommended for larger fillings. Due to their natural appearance, they are commonly used for front teeth and other more visible areas, however, this also makes them more vulnerable to stains.
Most dentists use both amalgam and composite fillings and there are different reasons to consider either option. Ultimately, the decision is yours and Dr. Lenz will provide a high-quality tooth filling with the material that works best for your appearance and your budget.
What to Expect
The process for a tooth filling is fairly simple and the procedure usually only takes about 30 minutes. First, Dr. Lenz will give you localized anesthesia to numb the area and make the procedure more comfortable for you. Next, he will use a drill to remove the decayed material and clean up the area to prepare for the filling. The cavity is then filled with the desired material and may require the use of light to strengthen the filling. After the filing has been placed, Dr. Lenz and his assistant will polish and remove any residue from the filling to retain the normal shape and feel of your tooth.
If you think you may have a cavity or need a checkup, give us a call or schedule an appointment.
If a damaged tooth requires a very large filling, Dr. Lenz may also apply a dental crown to the tooth. These tooth-shaped caps are cemented into place and help to restore the shape, strength and appearance of severely damaged teeth. Crowns can also be used for cosmetic purposes or to cover a dental implant.
Some teeth may be too severely infected to be restored with a filling, even with a crown. Whether it's from an injury or an untreated cavity, teeth with this deep of infection may require a root canal to save what's left of the tooth. Dr. Lenz performs root canals to remove bacteria and the dying or dead tissue from inside damaged teeth. Without this treatment, a tooth may have to be removed.
If your tooth is too severely damaged to be saved with a root canal, Dr. Lenz will perform an extraction - removal of the tooth from its socket in the bone. Extractions are also performed for various other reasons, including:
- To remove extra teeth or make room for teeth that are being realigned with braces
- To remove baby teeth that don't fall out and allow permanent teeth to come in
- To remove wisdom teeth that are decayed, cause pain, are misaligned or impacted
- To remove teeth that have been loosened because of periodontal (gum) disease