Cavities - even very small ones - all require treatment to remove decay and prevent it from spreading and to stabilize and rebuild the tooth structure. Most cavities can be treated with filling procedures that use special instruments to remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth, followed by fillings made of metal amalgams or composite resins. Deep cavities may require root canal procedures to reach the pulp portion of the tooth, and major decay may require larger restorations like onlays or crowns.
Tooth-colored fillings are made of durable composite resins that can be tinted to match the patient’s natural teeth so the resulting restoration is very difficult to detect. Unlike traditional metal amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings will not turn dark over time, and they do not contain mercury or other metals. The resins used in tooth-colored fillings are flowed onto the tooth surface, then shaped for a comfortable fit and a very strong bond that helps prevent future decay.
Onlays are custom-made restorations made of tooth-colored porcelain and designed to treat larger, more extensive cavities - specifically damage that extends down the side of the tooth. Onlays are made from impressions of the tooth to achieve a custom fit and beautiful, long-lasting results. An onlay can be a good solution for damaged areas that are too extensive to be adequately treated with a filling, but which do not require a complete crown.
When a tooth is lost due to decay, disease or trauma, it’s always a good idea to replace it as soon as possible to prevent future tooth loss. That’s because when a tooth is lost, the teeth on either side of it will eventually begin to lean in toward the resulting gap and the underlying jaw bone will begin to atrophy, making it far more likely these teeth will fall out as well. Plus, even one missing tooth can have a major impact on a person’s bite mechanics, resulting in uneven tooth wear that can increase the risk of decay.
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