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When a cavity develops and decay has taken hold, dentists use fillings to seal teeth so they remain clean and strong. Crafted to fit the natural feel of the original tooth, the look and longevity of a filling depends on a variety of factors.

Fillings are quite common because cavities can happen to anyone—most of us have one by the time we turn 17. It’s important to understand that fillings are a treatment. They’re used to stop tooth decay from progressing. If left untreated, cavities may lead to a dangerous infection and, eventually, the need for a root canal.

Let Charlotte dentist the team at SouthEnd Dentistry help you take care of cavities and decay. A simple filling early on can save your tooth and your smile.


What Are Cavities

Cavities occur when bacteria begins the natural decaying process in or on a tooth. Without healthy brushing and flossing habits, and regular dentist visits, these decay-causing bacteria have more places to grow. Small cavities are easily treated with fluoride, but they can quickly expand.

In order to stop the growth of a cavity, our dentist first reviews x-rays of the tooth before carefully removing the affected material from the tooth using a dental drill. Anesthetic is used during this process to numb the area and minimize discomfort. Other anxiety or pain-reducing options are also available.


Kinds of fillings

3d render of tooth with dental composite filling over white background

Tooth-Colored Fillings

When the infection has been cleaned out, our dentist will fill the space left by the cavity with either a porcelain or composite material that matches your original tooth color. Depending on your preference and financial restrictions, we’ll work with you to find the right filling.

Composite, porcelain – and in special cases – glass ionomer fillings are excellent options if you need a cavity filled. Composite fillings are a mix of plastic and glass, and actually bond to the tooth much better than metal. These are all much more discrete, effective and long-lasting than traditional amalgam, or silver, fillings.



Porcelain fillings

Porcelain fillings are used for large cavities and restorations for strength. They are produced using special CAD technology – the same technology used to create CEREC crowns. This makes these types of filling a little more expensive than composites, but the fit will be extremely accurate when placed. The porcelain is strong, but over time it can get brittle. However, they are resistant to staining and offer a beautiful natural look. No one will be able to tell you’ve had a cavity filled!

3d render of tooth with dental composite filling over white background
A lead cavity filling on a single molar on an isolated background

Safe Amalgam Removal

Recently, people have begun to question the safety of silver fillings due to their mercury content. Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin that can severely damage brain function if ingested or inhaled. As part of the amalgam that comprises silver fillings, some believe it may be harmful. Though these concerns are not entirely proven, we do offer amalgam filling removal for those concerned about mercury exposure. We use CEREC technology to help protect the back of the throat as well.

If you choose to have an amalgam filling removed, Charlotte emergency dentist our dentist will first have to slice the filling into small pieces, and remove the remaining material using a dental drill. Once all the amalgam has been removed, a new filling will be inserted to replace it.



Inlays & Onlays

More conservative than a crown, inlays and onlays are two methods of restoring normal tooth structure after decay or other damage. Inlays and onlays are known as indirect fillings because unlike a standard filling that is done in our office, both are made in a laboratory and cemented or bonded to the surface of the tooth during a second visit. And unlike standard fillings, inlays and onlays do not weaken the tooth structure, but actually strengthens it.