To understand what a dental cavity is, it is important to understand the components of a tooth. At the center of a tooth lies a collection of nerves and tissues that are known as the pulp. Surrounding the pulp of the tooth is a layer of enamel, a hard mineral that protects the sensitive pulp of the tooth. General dentistry services are meant to preserve the strength of the teeth and gums, and prevent this protective layer of enamel from becoming damaged. Unfortunately, bacteria, plaque, and tartar often collect on the enamel of the teeth, and can begin to eat away at its protective surface. This damage is known as tooth decay, and when that decay leads to the formation of a hole in the outer layer of the tooth, that is known as a cavity. Try as patients might to keep the teeth clean and healthy, cavities are a common oral health problem, which is why Dr. Timothy Sluser offers several treatments for cavities at his Pittsburgh practice.
The most common treatment for dental cavities is a dental filling. A dental filling literally “fills” the hole that has been left by tooth decay, and seals off the tooth so that it is protected against infection in the inner layer of the tooth, where the pulp lies. There are actually two options that may be considered when it comes to dental fillings: metal fillings and composite fillings.
- Metal fillings: Metal fillings are composed of a mix of metals, often including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. Metal fillings are extremely strong and are a bit more affordable than composite fillings. However, the downside of metal fillings is their silver color. The color makes the treated tooth stand out against adjacent teeth. However, for the back teeth that are not easily visible, metal fillings can be an excellent option.
- Composite fillings: Composite fillings are extremely durable and are a great option for small to moderate sized fillings, especially those located toward the front of the mouth. These fillings can be colored to match the shade of the surrounding teeth so that they blend in seamlessly and do not negatively impact the appearance of the smile.
If dental cavities are large and extend to the biting surface of the teeth, or even to the cusps of the teeth, a simple dental cavity may not offer sufficient treatment. However, a dental crown (which requires reshaping of the tooth) may not be necessary. In these cases, Dr. Sluser offers patients inlays or onlays. Inlays and onlays are restorations that are fabricated in a dental lab and then bonded over the decayed tooth (after it has been cleaned) to fill in lost tooth enamel and block out harmful bacteria, much like a dental filling.
If you are concerned about the health of your teeth and would like to learn more about the general and restorative dentistry services offered by Dr. Timothy Sluser, contact us at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!