Richmond Dentist Discusses Dental Fillings

Jan 22nd, 2013 | By | Category: General Dentistry, Tooth Decay

Tooth DecayDental fillings are perhaps among the most recognizable dental procedures today. There’s a good chance that you’ve had a cavity before, along with 90% of adults in America, and a dental filling is often recommended for treating mild tooth decay. If the infection is caught in its earliest stage, or if the decay has advanced beyond the mild stage, then a dental filling may not be your ideal choice. So how do you know when a dental filling is right for your cavity? Typically, your dentist will recommend the right treatment for your specific case, but since the decision to treat tooth decay is ultimately yours, Richmond dentist Dr. Stefan Moiceanu discusses how decay progresses and the purpose of dental fillings.

The Progression of Tooth Decay

The origins of tooth decay can usually be traced back to the formation of dental plaque. Many people may not be aware that plaque consists mainly of oral bacteria, which form the sticky biofilm for protection when enough of them gather. Some of these microbes are harmless and may even be vital to maintaining your mouth’s delicate ecological balance. Others, however, are detrimental and can undermine the health of your teeth and gums. For instance, the germ Streptococcus mutans, which is a notorious contributor to plaque formation, converts the sugar and carbs in your meals into lactic acid. Like all acid, organic acid is corrosive to your tooth enamel and depletes your teeth’s minerals (demineralization), depriving enamel of the fuel it needs to strengthen itself through remineralization.

Directly under your tooth enamel is your tooth’s main structure, called dentin. Once the enamel is eroded, your tooth structure is subject to bacterial infection, which leads to tooth decay. If left unchecked, decay will eat through dentin and into your tooth’s center. Called the pulp, your tooth’s center houses nerves and blood vessels, and if it becomes compromised by decay, you may require a root canal procedure or extraction to prevent the further spread of infection.

Removing the Infection

Tooth decay is a progressive disease. When it is caught before your enamel erodes, it can usually be reversed with improved dental hygiene and a combination of tooth enamel-strengthening practices, such as fluoride treatments. However, once decay has reached the dentin, it must be removed to stop its progress. The amount of tooth structure removed depends on the extent of the decay, but a filling is often needed to reinforce the remaining tooth’s structure, which can be weakened after a portion of it is extracted. If an excessive amount of infected tooth is removed, then Dr. Moiceanu may recommend a dental crown to help protect its structural integrity, or he may recommend a different procedure altogether.

Restore Your Smile with Help from Your Richmond Dentist

Dentin contains tiny tubules that feed sensory information to your tooth’s pulp. When enamel dissolves, bacteria, food debris, hot and cold temperatures, and other irritants can lead to sometimes-severe tooth sensitivity, which can warn you that your tooth needs professional attention. If your tooth is sensitive, or if you’d like to learn more about treating tooth decay, schedule a consultation with Dr. Moiceanu at our Richmond, CA dentist office by calling 510-758-7222. Located in Richmond, we proudly serve families from Berkeley, San Pablo, Pinole, Benicia, Vallejo, and the surrounding communities.

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