Cavities are damaged parts of the hard surface of the teeth that decay. Caused by bacteria, sugary snacks and drinks and lack of good dental maintenance, they can cause sudden tooth pain and sensitivity. You may be able to visibly see the cavity in the affected tooth. Left untreated, cavities can cause infection and the loss of the tooth.

Signs that You Have a Cavity

The first sign is usually pain in the tooth, signaling that the problem may be advanced. This is why regular dental checkups and cleanings are important. During the dental exam, problems can be identified early and treatment started early on is more effective.

How a Dentist Treats Cavities

Fillings are the primary treatment option for cavities, especially those that have done extensive damage and have gone untreated for a while. Your dentist will numb affected area to help with pain. The decayed part of the tooth is removed with a laser, drill or abrasion tool.

Your dentist will clean the tooth to avoid leaving any bacteria behind. The filling material will be applied to the tooth and your bite will be tested to ensure that the alignment of the tooth is correct. The dentist will finish up with a polish.

Types of Fillings Available

When deciding the type of filling that is right for your tooth, you and your dentist will consider the location and the extent of the damage done to the tooth, and the cost of the material and what your insurance will cover.

Silver Amalgam

Composed of metals including mercury, tin, copper, silver and zinc they are durable and less expensive than other options.  Many countries prohibit the use of dental amalgam fillings. The USA still allows the placement of silver/mercury amalgam fillings.


One of the longest lasting options, they are also more expensive. Because of this, insurance companies are not usually willing to cover the cost of gold fillings. They also can be a little flashy, so most people shy away from them.

Composite Fillings

This mix of acrylic resin and powdered glass can be made to appear closer in finish to your tooth. They can chip but they can bond to the tooth.

Porcelain Fillings

These fillings are more expensive than other options, but they appear natural. They are also more delicate than a metal filling would be.

Resin/Glass Ionomer

Used in smaller areas or below the gum line, they cannot withstand the pressure of chewing like the other options.

To avoid cavities, keep up with your regular dental check-ups and follow your dentist’s maintenance suggestions. If you suspect that you or your family member has a cavity, call our Long Beach dental office today to decide the best treatment option for you.

You can reach us by calling 562-434-6414, or request an appointment here.