What are caries? Alex.
Not many people would give that question when faced with this answer on Jeopardy:
“The clinical term for decay in a tooth.”
It’s the most common form of oral disease known to man, dental caries. The process of getting caries is informally known as tooth decay.
Most people know caries as a cavity. But that’s really a misnomer. That term probably came from the fact that once the dentist cleans out the decay, what is left is a cavity. And that cavity can’t be left open, as food debris and bacteria would become lodged in there. It needs to be filled.
That’s where the term “filling” came from.
At Implant Dentistry of Florida, we fill dental caries every day. There are options when it comes to your choice of the type of filling.
Types of fillings at Implant Dentistry of Florida
You’re probably quite familiar with silver fillings. If you’re over 40, odds are you’ve at least a couple of them in your molars. Surprise, they’re not really silver; they’re actually mostly mercury! That is disconcerting to many people. Silver fillings are made of silver amalgam. To make them, mercury (50% of the eventual filling) is mixed with a powder comprised of silver, copper, tin, or zinc (usually a combination of some or all of those). There really isn’t any potential for harm from the mercury in your amalgam fillings. They’ve been studied by the FDA and they’ve been used since the 1800s. Still, some people don’t like the idea of being like a fish at the bottom of Lake Erie, having mercury in their body.
- Composite fillings are becoming more and more popular because they are very close to tooth color, making them virtually invisible to another person. The resin is made of a mixture of plastic and glass. The downside to composite fillings is that they are not as durable as amalgam and they cost more.
- Ceramic or porcelain fillings have the admirable quality of being durable and having high aesthetic value because their color can closely match the natural color of the patient’s teeth. They are more expensive but resist staining and aren’t easily scratched as composite resin can be. This type of filling is often an inlay or onlay, which we can make in a single appointment with our CEREC system.
- Glass ionomer fillings are made of a combination of acrylic and glass. They are intended for children’s baby teeth because they only last five years and release fluoride to strengthen the surrounding natural teeth.
- Gold fillings used to be popular, but that’s not true today because they are very visible and somewhat expensive. Still, they are very durable, sturdy, and non-corrosive.
When you have a decayed tooth, we’ll discuss your options for filling the cavity. If you’re between cleanings, and you have pain in a tooth, it can be a sign of decay that needs to be addressed before it enters areas such as the tooth root. Call us at Implant Dentistry of Florida, (321) 372-7700 to schedule your appointment.