Fillings & Restorations

Fillings & Restorations


Untreated cavities cause further damage

When a tooth has decayed and developed a cavity, it’s important to remove the decay and restore the tooth. Treatment will stop the cavity from growing larger and weakening the tooth, and it will also prevent bacteria from infecting the inner layers of the tooth.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that forms when acids in the mouth destroy tooth structure. These acids are produced by the bacteria in plaque, which is the sticky, colorless film that forms constantly on your teeth. Unless steps are taken to prevent this decay process, the acids slowly dissolve the tooth enamel, causing a cavity.

cavityFinding cavities

We locate tooth decay by performing a thorough exam, which can include visual inspection and the use of a dental explorer, x-rays, and sometimes specialized equipment as well.

In some cases, we can see cavities easily on the biting surfaces of your teeth. To check for cavities that are less easily seen on the tops and side surfaces of your teeth, we may use a dental explorer, which sticks slightly when it touches decayed areas. We also use x-rays to find more advanced decay inside a tooth or decay between teeth. On x-rays, cavities show up as dark spots.

During your exam, you may hear us identify the location of a cavity by using numbers and letters. They help us identify the specific surface of a particular tooth. For example, your lower left wisdom tooth is tooth number 17, and the top surface is labeled “O,” which stands for “occlusal.” This term refers to the biting surface of a tooth.

Treating cavities

If we find cavities in your teeth, we’ll remove the decay and place a restoration. There are several types of restorations, including fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns, and these can be fabricated from a variety of different dental materials. We’ll talk with you about the best restoration for your situation. By treating decay as soon as possible, we can often prevent it from causing further damage and more extensive treatment in the future.

What can cause tooth decay?

Bacteria and food can cause tooth decay. A clear, sticky substance called plaque is always forming on your teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria that feed on the sugars in the food you eat.

As the bacteria feed, they make acids. The acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after you eat. Over time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, causing tooth decay.

Diagnosing a Cavity

Before & After: White Fillings

Homecare:  Resin Fillings

Now that we’ve placed your resin filling, it’s important  to follow these recommendations to ensure its success.

Chewing and eating

If we used an anesthetic during the procedure, avoid  chewing until the numbness has worn off completely.

dental implant home instructionsBrushing and flossing

Brush and floss normally. If your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure, use  a desensitizing toothpaste. If sensitivity persists beyond  a few days, call us.


To reduce any discomfort or swelling, rinse your mouth  three times a day with warm salt water. Use about one  teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water. It’s normal for  your gums to be sore for several days.

When to call us

Call our office if your bite feels uneven, you have  sensitivity or discomfort that increases or continues  beyond three or four days, or if you have any questions or concerns


Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay is damage that occurs when germs (bacteria) in your mouth make acids that eat away at a tooth. It can lead to a hole in the tooth, called a cavity.
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