When plaque or tartar builds up on a tooth, it can begin to rot away the enamel. Dentists and other medical professionals know these decayed spots as caries. You know them as cavities. Lack of proper dental hygiene, such as infrequent brushing, flossing, or regular cleanings by a dentist can all lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar, as well as the bacteria associated with food and your own salvia. Though many cavities are caught while small and painless, a cavity that is left to fester can become extremely painful, as it can penetrate down to the root of the tooth fairly quickly.
Dental Fillings To Restore and Protect Teeth
When a cavity is detected, the decayed area must be removed so as to stop its spread, and the resulting hole must be filled, in order to keep the tooth strong and whole, and to protect the area from future cavities. Upon finding a cavity, Dr. Zadeh will have you make an appointment to come back and have the tooth filled. Your mouth will be numbed with several shots of Novocain, so that you won’t feel a thing during the procedures. Cavities that are extremely shallow may not require Novocain, but this is something to be determined on a case-by-case basis. For those who have extreme phobias of dental work, drilling, and/or of the needle used to inject the Novocain, Dr. Zadeh offers a whole range of options to keep you calm and relaxed during the procedure. For the anxious, Dr. Zadeh offers sleep dentistry, iatrogenic sedation, and chair-side entertainment, which includes movies, calf massages, warm blankets, and supportive assistants. Please see our page “Afraid of the Dentist?” for more information on these special offerings. On average, composite fillings cost $150-$200 per filling.
Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings
Two types of fillings are available for your cavity—composite and amalgam. Dr. Zadeh can help you decide which one is right for you. Composite fillings are by far the most popular today. Firstly, these fillings do not contain any mercury, which is found in amalgam fillings, and has been known to have toxic side-effects. Secondly, composite fillings are white and can be colored to match your tooth, so that the filling appears almost completely natural. Thirdly, composite fillings harden immediately, so you can go back to chewing and talking just as you normally would, with no recovery time. Lastly, composite fillings can be applied in very small amounts, so less drilling is required to make room for the filling.
However, there are some drawbacks to composite fillings that sometimes lead patients to opt for amalgam fillings instead. Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings, and are often not covered by insurance companies (especially for back teeth). The combination of a more expensive procedure and a lack of insurance coverage can amount to a great expense. These fillings also take a bit longer to put in place than an amalgam filling, and also can stain over time with regular smoking, coffee intake, or lack of proper dental hygiene, and do not respond well to bleaching.
You can view photos of composite fillings in our smile gallery.