Cavities and Fillings I San Leandro Dentist I Dr. Elena Davidson


Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Dr. Davidson, cavity

What Are Cavities?

Cavities form when plaque, which is made-up of the bacteria in your mouth, develops into acids that stick to the enamel of your tooth and break down the surface.

Plaque can get stuck in the pits and grooves of the biting surfaces of teeth and on the smooth areas like the front and backs of teeth (or even in between the teeth). Usually plaque gets brushed away with your toothbrush, but when you forget to brush for several days, plaque can spread and result in a sensitivity within your tooth or actually reach the root and cause you pain.

Read more about preventative care you can do at home to avoid getting cavities.

Repairing Cavities with Fillings

Dentists like Dr. Davidson repair cavities by sealing the hole from the plaque with tooth-colored restorations. The older type of filling material, a metal alloy contains mercury and is not used often, but  some patients still have these types of fillings in their mouths. After the decayed area is removed with a dental drill, the filling material is added to prevent the decay from spreading further into your tooth.

Silver Fillings
cavities and fillings
The older type, silver fillings, have been used for more than a century, but they are actually not made-up of pure silver. These dental amalgams are actually an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. The mercury combines with the other metals to make the compound strong and stable.

The advantages of silver fillings are that they are strong and inexpensive, but the disadvantages are quite numerous:

  • Silver fillings require relatively more tooth preparation (drilling) than other types.
  • The edges of the silver filling can wear down, become weak or break which results in the tooth not being protected and lets cavities get started once again.
  • With age, the metal of a silver filling expands, contracts, and can split.
  • Silver fillings contain 50% mercury which can corrode, leak and cause stains on your teeth.

Fortunately, silver fillings can safely be replaced with tooth-colored restorations.

Advantages of Tooth-Colored Restorations


There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations also called composite resins and onlays.resin onlays - Davidson Dental Group

These tooth-colored restorations or resin onlays are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. Such restorations can be used in instances where much of the tooth structure has been lost.

Since the resin used in tooth-colored restorations contain fluoride this also helps prevent decay. The resin wears like a natural tooth and does not require placement at the gum line, which is healthier for your gums!

The result is a beautiful smile!

Replacing Silver Fillings with Tooth Colored Restorations

You can have your silver fillings replaced with tooth-colored restorations (onlays). This process requires two appointments.

Your First Appointment:

  • The old filling is removed along with any additional decay.
  • An impression is made of your teeth. A model of your teeth is made and sent to the lab.
  • A temporary onlay is placed on the tooth. At the Lab: A resin is carefully placed into the model of your teeth. It is then designed to look natural.

Your Second Appointment:

  • The temporary onlay is removed.
  • A conditioning gel is placed on your tooth to prepare it for the new onlay.
  • Bonding cement is placed on the tooth and a high intensity light bonds the resin to the tooth.
  • The tooth is then polished.
  • Your teeth are restored to a natural look and feel, they are stronger and the tooth is protected!

If you have further questions about fillings, either about new tooth-colored restorations or replacing silver ones, please give Davidson Dental Group a call at (650) 327-3232


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