Cavity fillings replace the decayed part of a tooth. A cavity, also known as tooth decay, occurs when the enamel (the outside layer of your tooth) is eroded due to bacteria and acids.  In most cases, our Ottawa dentist will recommend a tooth filling as the best procedure for structurally repairing the area and preventing the cavity from spreading.

If a dental exam and/or x-ray reveals that you have a cavity, you ought to get it filled right away. Delaying care will allow the area to grow larger. In fact, you could end up with a severe toothache and needing a more extensive procedure, costing more money.  It’s even possible to let a cavity go so far that the tooth can no longer be restored and will need to be extracted.

What Takes Place During A Dental Filling Procedure?

The dental filling procedure is a rather quick treatment that our dentists perform multiple times per day.  First, the area of your mouth which contains the decayed tooth will be given a local anesthetic. Once you’re numb, we will remove the cavity with a small tool, leaving a “clean” opening in your tooth.

The void will then be restored with filling material that was chosen to be the best option for you.  This will be either a composite (white) or silver coloured (amalgam) filling. The specific steps for placing each of these is a bit different.

What Are White Fillings?

If you need a cavity treated in Ottawa, white fillings may be the best solution. The material used in this restoration is a resin composite, which is tooth coloured.  In fact, many different shades are available to choose from when doing a white filling so that it blends in with your smile.

White fillings require a very dry environment when we place them. To keep your saliva from contaminating the tooth, our dentist will use a rubber dam to isolate the tooth.  This is a latex sheet (or non-latex, if you have an allergy) that will fit over your teeth. The dam has a hole in it for your tooth to fit through. This barrier allows us to easily see your tooth and prevent it from becoming moist during the appointment.

Once your tooth has been prepped by your dentist, we’ll etch the area to allow the composite material to adhere better.  A bonding chemical will also be placed over the tooth to help the resin stick to your enamel. When the white filling is being placed, it’s a moldable substance that our dentist can shape to the natural grooves of your tooth.  After this step is completed, a special light cures the restoration to harden it.

The Pros and Cons of Getting Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are a great solution for treating cavities because they are tooth-coloured, for great aesthetic appeal.  This is especially helpful when the problem area is on a tooth that is visible when you smile. Our dentist can match your filling to the shade of your natural teeth, making it invisible to everyone else.

However, there are some disadvantages to white fillings. For example, they can stain.  Proper cleaning techniques at home and frequent dental visits will help keep your white composite filling looking its best.

It can be difficult for some people to wear the rubber dam used during the composite procedure.  Since the treatment may not be able to be completed without it, a white filling may not be the best solution. If you think this may be a problem, let our dentist know during your exam.

If the area does get contaminated with moisture, the filling may end up popping out because it didn’t get a good enough seal to start with.

Though it is a rather quick procedure, doing a composite versus a silver filling takes a few minutes longer because there are more steps involved. It also costs a small amount more.

What Are Silver Fillings?

Our Ottawa family dentists can treat your decay with silver fillings, also known as an amalgam. Contrary to what some people may think, this material is not harmful to you or your body.

After removing the decay from your tooth, our dentist will tightly pack the soft amalgam into the void. Over a short period of time the silver material will harden.  Usually it will be fully set within 24 hours. In the meantime, you’ll need to be careful not to eat hard, or sticky foods on that side of your mouth.

The Pros and Cons of Getting Amalgam Fillings?

One of the advantages of amalgams versus composites is that they are cheaper.  While white fillings aren’t expensive, silver ones will still save you a little bit more money.

When working on a back tooth that can’t be isolated with a rubber dam, amalgams may be used because they don’t require a dry environment to be placed.

A disadvantage of a silver filling is the fact that they need time to harden.  Even though it’s just for a day, it can be difficult for some people to leave it alone while it sets.

Having a large filling of any kind can cause sensitivity to the tooth for a few days or weeks.  With amalgams, the time frame can be a bit longer versus having a composite.

An amalgam filling isn’t bonded to the tooth like the resin material is.  It is simply packed in the void. Most of the time this works great, but in some cases, especially when the area is large, the restoration will come out. If our dentist suspects this may be the case with your tooth, we may recommend a composite filling instead, or perhaps even a crown.

Getting Cavities Filled in Ottawa

If you think that you may have a cavity, or if it’s been a while since you’ve had a dental checkup, it’s time to visit Parkdale Dental Centre.  We will be happy to see you for a comprehensive exam and discuss any treatment that you may need. Make your smile a priority. Give us a call today!