Why might I need a filling?
You might be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of different kinds of bacteria that naturally exist in our mouths. Only a few of them play much of a role in causing cavities. The biggest culprit is Mutans streptococci, or S. mutans for short.
S. mutans possesses two special qualities that lead to cavity formation. Whenever you consume sugar, you’re not the only one! S. mutans also consumes that sugar and produces a sticky product that attaches to the sides of your teeth. Not only does it stick to our teeth, but S. mutans also produces lactic acid, which slowly dissolves tooth structure, causing cavities. When cavities get large enough or deep enough, they can cause sensitivity to food and drink, toothaches, or broken teeth, but patients often experience no symptoms at all.
Cavities usually form in the areas that are most difficult to clean. The sticky bacteria embed themselves deep in the grooves, fissures, and pits in the chewing surfaces of our teeth where even a narrow toothbrush bristle can’t always reach. Cavities are also commonly found in between the teeth, in areas only properly cleaned by regular flossing. Be certain that you brush the area where your gums meet your teeth also, as this is another area where bacteria can collect and cause cavities.
Another common reason that patients need fillings is due to fractured teeth. Our teeth are the hardest substance in our bodies, but they’re not indestructible! So it’s best to avoid really hard foods like ice, jawbreakers, and other hard candies. However, if you just can’t resist that Jolly Rancher or you accidentally bite down on your fork and chip your tooth, it’s usually just a simple fix.
What is a dental filling?
After removing the diseased part of the tooth, we use state-of-the-art, evidence-based materials, including tooth-colored composite restorations, to repair any damage. The filling, or dental restoration, is custom shaped to fit the size, shape, and color of your natural tooth. We use only the most clinically sound bonding systems to keep your new restoration securely affixed to your tooth, giving you the best chance for a long-lasting filling.
Smaller fillings tend to last longer than larger fillings do, which is one of the reasons why it is so important to get routine dental exams. The difference between a cavity that is identified early and one that isn’t noticed until it causes pain may be the difference between a simple filling and more complex treatment like crowns, root canal therapy, or even removal of the tooth.
What do I do if I think I have a cavity?
Have you experienced sensitivity to cold foods, sweet foods, or hot foods? Or pain when chewing food in a certain area of your mouth? Did you fracture your tooth when you accidentally hit it against a beverage glass?
If so, schedule an appointment by calling 301-963-0800. We have appointments as early as 7:00 am for your convenience.