Tooth decay is the most common cause of tooth loss among the young and old population. It usually happens because of poor oral hygiene, wrong food choices and unhealthy lifestyle.

Often times, we hear and read the importance of a good oral hygiene to prevent plaque build-up that can cause tooth decay. A dental plaque is a sticky, colorless substance that forms and covers the tooth surface. So how plaque can damage teeth? Simple, it harbors bacteria that when combined with sugar from sweets or your carbohydrate-rich meal, they produce acid. The acid can wear out the tooth’s enamel by dissolving the minerals such as calcium and fluorine, which makes the teeth hard. Loss of these minerals can cause tiny holes on the tooth’s surface which is called cavities. Overtime, these cavities can become extensive and can eat the different tooth structures.

If you experience any of these: toothache, gum swelling around the affected tooth, bad breath or discolored spots in your teeth, go to your dentist. Have it examined and confirmed if you are positive for tooth decay. There are many ways treating decayed teeth but it usually starts with using a dental filling.

A dental filling is used to fill the cavities or holes present in the surface of your teeth. Your dentist will decide what type of filing is needed to fill the dental cavity. Decision usually depends on the extent of decay, the position of the decayed tooth, the condition or health of the tooth and the cost of the material. Types of dental fillings depend on the material which they are made of. Types of fillings are:
• Metal fillings – they can be made from either gold or silver. They are more durable and can withstand chewing forces. However, they are sensitive to temperatures and since they are colored, they are not aesthetically pleasing. A gold filling is the most expensive type of filling while a silver amalgam is the cheapest.
• Porcelain fillings – Porcelain materials are able to reflect light like the enamel of your teeth thus they are preferred among other filling materials. They closely resemble the natural color of your teeth. They are also durable and stain resistant.
Composite fillings – Much like porcelain, they are aesthetically pleasing because they can mimic the natural color of your teeth. They are usually used to mend broken, chipped or worn out teeth. However, these material lacks durability and are quite expensive as compared to silver amalgams.

The filling procedure only takes one visit. After cleaning and removing the decayed part of the tooth, the filling material is placed on the cavity. Then, they are shaped following the natural structure of your tooth. Polishing is done thereafter.

If you have any questions regarding dental fillings, do not hesitate to ask your dentist. Remember an informed patient is the best patient any dentist can have.