You're crunching ice cream or a piece of candy when you notice sensitivity from one of your teeth. In many cases this sensitivity is an outcome of Enamel breakdown and bacterial irritation of the inner (sensitive) layers of your teeth.
Enamel is the white shield that covers your teeth; it is the hardest, most mineralised tissue in the body. In areas where food an bacteria are allowed to accumulate over a long period of time, Enamel will degrade and even break as a result of the acidity generated by the bacteria ( called tooth decay or caries). Once the outer shield of the tooth is penetrated; the inner layers (dentin) will sound an alarm (nerve sensitivity). Similar situation may happen when the Enamel cracks or chips from trauma or upon biting on hard food.
If you think that your tooth is decayed, broken, chipped, or fractured you should see your dentist as soon as possible.How to Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair can usually be done simply in a one office visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure. Here are some ways your dentist may repair your broken or chipped tooth.Dental Filling or Bonding
Dental filling is a common procedure, in which a dentist removes the infected and decayed tooth tissue, disinfects the site and restores the tooth back to its original shape using a dental restorative material. Sometimes when the damage or decay is very deep the dentist will place medicine under the filling to help the nerve inside the tooth to recover.What is a Filling and what is it made of?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay or trauma back to its normal function and shape. The process of restoring a tooth usually begins with the dentist administering local anaesthesia to numb the damaged tooth.
Once the tooth is sufficiently numb the dentist will use special carbide or diamond coated drills to cut through the enamel in order to remove any decay. Following the removal of the decay the dentist will shape the cavity to optimize its shape for the filling.
The following are the common dental restorative materials:
- Amalgam ( or silver filling): Amalgam has been in use since around 1500 AD ( some researchers suggest that records of amalgam use can be dated as back as 680AD). Dental amalgam composition has changed over the years and even today varies between different manufacturers. Generally speaking amalgam consists of Silver, mercury, copper, tin and other trace elements. Due to its long history, dental amalgam is still considered as a predictable restoration with long term success. Over the recent years few scientific works were published suggesting that the leakage of metallic elements from amalgam filling may cause an adverse affect on the health of the individual. Even though these claims were not scientifically proven the consensus today is not to use amalgam as a first choice restorative material.
- Composite (white or tooth coloured) filling: Composite dental material is a synthetic polymer material ( Bis-GMA, TEGMA, UDMA, HDDMA ) filled with particles of silica, quartz and even zirconium to give it strength and aesthetics. Most composite dental materials will start setting (polymerizing / hardening) once exposed to blue light in a specific wave length. One of the biggest advantages of using a composite material is our ability to bond it to the tooth therefore turning the tooth and the filling into one. Correct choice and use of composite materials will allow your dentist to restore and fill your tooth back to its natural shape and colour.
- Ceramic filling (Cerec, Emax etc): When a tooth is severely damaged however the damage is not extensive enough to justify a full coverage crown your dentist may recommend a ceramic filling. Utilizing today's advances in technology; on the first appointment the decay and the damage from your tooth will be removed and your tooth prepared. Then, your dentist will use a silicone like material to copy it and send the copy to a dental laboratory. In the laboratory a dental technician will scan and digitize a copy of your tooth to create a virtual model. Based on the model a restoration will be computer milled. On the second appointment your dentist will bond the ceramic restoration to your tooth thus restoring strength and function.
In addition to these most commonly used restorative materials other materials also exist ( G.I - Glass Iononmer, Gold inlays, cast metal and others).
At Balaclava Dental Care when we are considering restoring / filling a tooth we will chose a material suited for your individual circumstances: may it be white, ceramic or replacing your old amalgams ; we routinely stock a variety of restorative materials from the best manufacturers to optimize the outcome of your treatment.
Maintaining good oral health is important throughout your life from infancy through the senior years.
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss your teeth once a day
- Get regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning
- Eat a balanced, low-sugar diet
Once you establish proper dental hygiene habits, you should maintain them throughout your lifetime.
Smoking and all forms of tobacco are harmful to your oral health and bad for you in general, possible oral health impacts include:
- stained teeth and tongue
- bad breath
- dulled sense of taste and smell
- slow healing after a tooth extraction or oral surgery
- difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems
- gum disease and tooth loss
- oral cancer
Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of these and other tobacco-related health problems
A white smile is a great accessory for everyone.
Everybody loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours. Many people are satisfied with the sparkle they get from daily oral hygiene and regular cleanings at your dentist’s office, but if you decide you would like to go beyond this to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your whitening options.
(by College of Dentistry, university of Florida)