Have you been to a dentist and been told that you have a dental cavity that you have no idea exists, neither do you have any no pain or sensitivity?
Is the dentist telling a whole lot of hogwash or should you just trust them?
Truthfully speaking, most dental cavities a.k.a. decay a.k.a. dental caries do not show any signs or symptoms especially at the initial stages. However, leaving them alone will only result in the cavities growing larger over time.
There are some truth in teeth being able to repair themselves. However, that only happens if the decay is confined to the outer surface of the teeth a.k.a the Enamel. (This topic will be explained in another post.)
Today, I will be explaining the process in detecting, investigating and treating dental cavity using dental fillings.
This young lady attended the clinic for a regular dental checkup & clean. She has zero complaint.
Apart from the misaligned teeth and some evidence of wear, everything seems to be nice and perky.
But on closer inspection, that small discolouration you see in between the teeth is a sign of dental caries. At this moment, it doesn’t appear to be large. Dental caries occur in between teeth mostly due to not flossing. They are known as interproximal caries or flossing cavities.
A dental radiograph (XRay) is taken to determine the size of the cavity. Doesn’t look too bad here. Until dentists develop xray vision like Superman does, radiographs are here to stay.
That blue stuff you see around the teeth is called a dental dam. It is commonly used to isolate the teeth so that they are nice and dry. It also prevents things from going down your throat. Appears unfriendly, but it really doesn’t bite.
A small little diamond bur is used to drill into the discoloured spot. This is what it looks like underneath that discolouration. This is what dental caries look like.
Ever had an experience where the dental filling your dentist placed was much larger than the initial cavity? That is most often the case as what you see and what is really present can vary greatly. Cavities usually becomes much larger the deeper it goes into the tooth.
That blue stuff you see is phosphoric acid used to etch the surface of the cavity. Etching helps increase the bond strength of the dental filling to the tooth.
A strip and wedge is used to separate the adjacent tooth in order to prevent the dental filling from sticking to the wrong tooth. You would still like to floss your teeth don’t you?
A bonding agent acts like an adhesive to ‘glue’ the dental filling to the tooth surface.
In my opinion, the hardest part to perform is choosing the right colour for the filling. Just like the human race, teeth comes in different shapes and colour. Most often, it requires a mixture of different shades to get the best results. It is not easy, because it feels like painting on a canvas the size of an insect.
In this case, a tooth coloured dental filling (composite) is placed. In its initial form, it’s a moldable paste. Blue light is used to activate the setting process to make the composite hard and strong.
This small equipment is my composite heater. It heats the composite to an ideal temperature so that the composite is easier to handle and flows into the cavity quite easily.
This is what it looks like after placing the filling.
Looking much better now.
Placing a dental filling is more than just drill and fill. It is both science and art bundled together.
Till next time, adios!