It starts with bacteria…
Thousands of bacteria live in your mouth, and most of them are beneficial. But a few are harmful, including the streptococcus mutans bacterium, the one responsible for tooth decay. These bacteria thrive in plaque, a sticky film that’s constantly forming on your teeth.
Add starches, and the process begins
The S. mutans bacteria feast on starches in your mouth, then produce an acid that dissolves your tooth enamel, until eventually you have a hole on the surface of your tooth, a cavity. The only way to stop the decay process is for us to remove the decay and put in a filling material. This will prevent more extensive and costly procedures, such as a root canal or extraction. It will also help prevent unwanted and painful emergencies in the future.
Old metal fillings that are defective and stressful may be as harmful to teeth than new cavities are to teeth. Many old silver fillings are not bonded, and therefore have cracked or leaked over the years, thereby letting the bacteria in your mouth get under them and cause damage. And, although you may have had the fillings for years, it only takes a hard bite, or time, to snap the tooth in half.
When this happens is anyone’s guess. You may not necessarily have any symptoms leading up to this. Because of this unknown, many patients prefer to take a proactive approach and either re-fill with a bonded, white filling, or crown the tooth (depending on how much healthy tooth is left), rather than a reactive approach, and deal with it when it breaks with a possible root canal or extraction.
This patient proactively replaced the filling with a new, bonded filling! (Note the clean interface between tooth and filling.) Although this tooth may one day need a crown, by replacing the filling, we were able to buy some time before that may be completely necessary.
Many of the filings I place are bonded, and virtually invisible to the eye. Unlike silver fillings, these keep the teeth healthy by resisting fracture and sealing the tooth-filling interface.
Although not all teeth can be “filled” in white, when done, it assures a healthy and attractive smile for years to come!