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Cavities and Fillings: What’s Normal?

Dentist checking a woman's mouth for cavities

When cavities develop, fillings repair the hole to prevent further decay and restore the tooth to its original shape. Filling materials include gold, silver, porcelain, and composite resin. In recent years, composite resin has gained popularity because it’s indistinguishable from the rest of the tooth. In this post, we answer common questions about cavities and fillings and help you understand what is normal.

How Do You Prevent Cavities?

When you take care of your teeth, you won’t need fillings because your teeth won’t decay. Here’s how to prevent cavities:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day (morning and evening) for two minutes, especially if you eat sugary or sticky foods. When sugar sticks to your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth produce acid that wears away the enamel. This leads to cavities, increased sensitivity, and tooth decay.
  • Floss your teeth once a day to eliminate particles that get trapped between your teeth, causing decay and infections.
  • Brush and floss your back teeth even if they’re hard to reach. Cavities often develop in back teeth because patients don’t scrub off the sugar and food particles well enough.
  • Use toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). This toothpaste contains fluoride to strengthen enamel and protect your teeth from tooth decay.
  • Drink water if you suffer from a dry mouth. Your mouth produces saliva to rinse food particles from your teeth. When you don’t have enough saliva, particles remain on your teeth, increasing your risk of developing cavities.
  • Never use cigarettes or tobacco products, and limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol contains sugars and acids that wear away enamel.

While cavities are common, you don’t have to be one of the patients that develop them. If you do develop cavities, schedule an appointment immediately to prevent further decay.

How Many Cavities is Normal?

If you care for your teeth properly and you have no other underlining causes for cavities such as medication, then you shouldn’t get cavities. Sometimes the issue of failing teeth is beyond your control. There are over 500 medications that have a negative effect on the chemistry of your mouth and increase your chance of tooth decay.

As far as statistics for the average number of cavities, the number varies across different age groups. In general, adults develop an average of three cavities during their lifetimes. This means that the average adult has three or four fillings in their mouth. Some patients end up with ten or more fillings depending on how well they care for their teeth.

How Long Do Dental Fillings Last?

On average, composite fillings last from five to seven years. Metal fillings can last for ten years or more, but they come with several drawbacks. As technology improves, composite fillings could match or exceed the lifespan of metal fillings. They also bond more securely to the tooth, which could increase the lifespan compared to a metal filling.

However, you’ll need to care for your fillings to get the longest lifespan. Brush your teeth regularly, be careful with hard foods, avoid chewing ice, and take extra care with fillings located in high-exposure areas. If you damage your fillings, schedule an appointment with Rinaldi Dental Arts to get them replaced.

What Are the Different Types of Fillings?

In the past, dentists made fillings from metal. They protected your teeth, but they stood out and dimmed your smile’s appearance. If you had metal allergies, your dentist had to find an alternative option. Metal fillings also contain trace amounts of mercury, which could cause health issues in the long run. While metal fillings are long-lasting, they can blacken or turn your teeth grey, making them even more visible.

Unlike metal fillings, composite fillings are made from resin that matches the color of the existing tooth. Your fillings are 100% invisible—even you won’t notice them when you look in the mirror. If you want whiter teeth, Rinaldi Dental Arts can whiten your teeth before adding the fillings. Otherwise, composite fillings match your tooth’s existing color.

While metal fillings sit over the cavity, composite fillings bond directly to the tooth, decreasing the risk of further decay. They cure quickly and require less drilling to make your appointment more comfortable. Afterward, the bonding keeps the resin strong and durable, ensuring that your fillings last for several years.

How Do Dentists Install Fillings?

In most cases, Rinaldi Dental Arts installs fillings in one appointment. We clean the teeth to remove tartar, plaque and decay, then apply the filling to your tooth and cure the filling with ultraviolet light. Afterward, we polish the filling so that it matches the shape of your existing tooth, making the filling invisible.

Generally, it takes only a few minutes to place a filling. Afterward, we’ll give you aftercare instructions. This could include avoiding hot, cold, and sharp foods, brushing your teeth, and chewing carefully so you don’t damage the filling. Afterward, you’ll return to your ordinary routine.

Schedule an Appointment with Rinaldi Dental Arts

To prevent cavities and fillings, schedule regular cleanings with Rinaldi Dental Arts. If you already have a toothache, schedule an appointment for a consultation. We’ll evaluate the issue and discuss the right solution for your teeth. Currently, we accept new and returning patients. Call us or fill out the online form to get started.

Dentist checking a woman's mouth for cavities