We have several methods to determine if you have tooth decay.
1. Observation-Some discolored spots on your teeth may indicate decay. Healthy tooth enamel is hard and will resist pressure from an explorer, a metal instrument that may be used.
2. Cavity detecting dye-This can be rinsed over your tooth. It will stick to decayed areas and rinse cleanly from healthy ones.
3. X-rays - X-rays can show decay developing in the enamel, but may not always show all cavities because other restorations may block the view of decay and occlusal (top) surface cavities may not show up.
4. Laser cavity detection-We use a laser called a Diagnodent which measures change caused by caries. They are especially useful for pit and fissure areas in your molar and premolar teeth.
Decay is not the only reason you may need a filling. Fillings can wear out and break over time, especially if you clench or grind your teeth. Dr. Tanner doesn't use amalgam fillings (silver) but if you have some in your mouth they can leak and get decay under them.
- Have poor aesthetics -- silver fillings don't match the color of natural teeth.
-Destruction of more tooth structure -- healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling.
-Discoloration -- amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
-Cracks and fractures -- although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material -- in comparison with other filling materials -- may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction and lead to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures.
-Allergic reactions -- a small percentage of people are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations.
-Aesthetics -- the shade/color of the composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. Composites are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
-Bonding to tooth structure -- composite fillings actually chemically bond to tooth structure, providing further support.
-Versatility -- in addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
-Tooth-sparing preparation -- sometimes less tooth structure needs to be removed compared with amalgam fillings when removing decay and preparing for the filling.