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Tooth decay or dental caries is one of the most common afflictions that affect the teeth. In fact, almost everyone you know would have had at least one filling done at some point in their life. There is a lot of fear attached to dental treatment because of the drilling, the noise and the possibility of pain. Thankfully, though, dental fillings and the procedures associated with them have moved generations into the future and are now pretty much painless.
Fillings done at the right time can also help patients avoid more invasive treatment like getting a root canal.
Why Do You Need To Get Your Teeth Filled?
Once the tooth has started to decay, the only way to arrest the process is to physically remove it with the help of a dental drill and then "fill" the prepared cavity. The process of tooth decay progresses quite slowly in most people and can be identified through a simple visual inspection in most cases.
Thus getting a filling done has two main parts: the preparation of the cavity and the actual filling part.
What Are The Different Ways In Which Cavities Can Be Prepared?
The most common method to get a cavity prepared is still by using a dental drill. This drill is the subject of many a nightmare, however, the truth is quite a bit different from that perpetuated myth. The doctor will take a pre-operative X-ray in case the decay appears to be extending deep into the tooth. Beyond a certain limit of decay, it is no longer possible to save the tooth with just a filling and a root canal may have to be performed.
The drill will be used to remove the decayed tooth structure. This process may or may not be done under local anesthesia depending on the doctor’s preference, the patient and the depth of the cavity. Even if no anesthesia has been given, all that the patient feels is just a little bit of sensitivity during the entire process.
The material properties of the newer filling materials mean that the doctor only has to remove the decayed tooth structure whereas in previous years the cavity had to extend to a certain size before the filling material could be applied.
This required the needless sacrifice of healthy tooth structure.
The other way in which cavities are being prepared is through the use of lasers. The biggest advantage of lasers is that they do not cause any noise or vibrations that will cause discomfort to the patient. The cavity prepared with this method is exactly the same as with the dental drill.
The only disadvantage with using a laser is that it can be difficult to determine how deep the laser is actually cutting. This is not a problem when shallow cavities are being prepared or the underlying tooth is a large one since the margin of error is high but it can be a problem when the cavity lies close to the nerve of the tooth.