Many people try to protect their oral health by brushing twice daily, flossing frequently, and visiting the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings. Sometimes, these efforts aren’t enough. Approximately 99% of adult Americans have or have had at least one cavity.
How Cavities Form
Your mom taught you that sugar causes cavities. Indirectly, this is true – but it isn’t the whole story. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and when introduced into the mouth, carbohydrates are used by oral bacteria to create an acid. This acid depletes tooth enamel of minerals. Next to diamonds, tooth enamel is the hardest natural substance on earth. However, minerals give it strength. When minerals are depleted from tooth enamel, the enamel softens. Bacteria take advantage of the weakened enamel, invade, and cause tooth decay.
Demineralization and Fluoride
The precursor to a cavity is demineralization. Logic dictates, then, that if we can prevent demineralization, we can avoid tooth decay. One way to keep tooth enamel strong is by using fluoride. This naturally occurring mineral has the unique power to attract other minerals that strengthen tooth enamel. When teeth are developing, during childhood, we can ingest fluoride to strengthen teeth; that’s why the government fluoridates tap water. However, adults can only reap the benefits of fluoride when the mineral is applied topically. Using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash is important. Dr. Van Wicklen or our hygienist may also recommend a topical fluoride treatment to strengthen your teeth.
For many years, dentists used amalgam, a composite metal material, for dental fillings. With time, metal fillings can change shape, leak, or crack, leading to the need for more restorative dental work. Amalgam fillings also contain trace amounts of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that the FDA and ADA say should not be used in dental fillings for pregnant women, elderly, or people with mercury sensitivity. Because most people don’t know if they have a mercury sensitivity, Dr. Van Wicklen places mercury-free, metal-free composite resin.
These all-white fillings offer a durable, non-toxic alternative to metal fillings. Because we can match the resin to your teeth, your composite filling will look natural.