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The hardest substance in your body is your tooth enamel. But make no mistake, your enamel is not impregnable. Acids from the things you eat and drink can slowly eat away at your enamel, leading to cavities and tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to an infection in your tooth, which could result in the need for a root canal or even an extraction.

You may think that there is only one type of cavity, which consists of a hole in your tooth. And while that is not too far off, the fact is that there are three kinds of cavities, which are characterized by their locations on your tooth: coronal, recurrent and root cavities.

Coronal cavities are the most common and are often located on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. As you age, or if you develop gum disease, your gums will start to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth. Since your roots are covered in cementum which is not nearly as strong as the enamel covering the crowns of your teeth, it is more vulnerable to decay and root cavities. Recurrent cavities are found around existing fillings and occur when plaque and acids build up between the fillings and the tooth surface.

Just as there are different types of cavities, there are different types of fillings. Gold fillings are very sturdy and will last for a long time. However, they are also very expensive (after all, they are gold) and can be easily seen. Porcelain fillings blend in with your tooth, but they are not as strong as an amalgam or composite filling, and they can be almost as expensive as gold. One of the most common types of fillings is the amalgam filling. These are made from a mixture of silver, mercury and other metals. They are very cost effective, and are often used for cavities on molars and premolars, since they can stand up the the pressure of chewing your food. One of the most popular kinds of fillings is the composite resin, or tooth-colored filling. Composites has improved over the years to the point that they are as strong as amalgam fillings. Composites require less drilling, since they form themselves to the shape of the hole in your tooth. However, their popularity comes from the fact that the composite resin can be shaded so that it blends in with the rest of your tooth, and are practically invisible to other people. Additionally, if your composite filling is damaged or starts to show wear, it can be easily repaired by adding more layers.

To prevent cavities and the need for fillings in Chula Vista, California, you should make sure that you brush your teeth twice a day, every day for two minutes at a time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. You should floss at least once a day, and eat a balanced diet, which includes limiting or avoiding foods that are high in sugar, acid or carbohydrates. By making regular appointments at Derek M. Lichter, DDS, Inc. for your routine cleanings and exams, the dentist can detect and treat tooth decay even before a cavity starts to form to ensure that your smile stays healthy. Give us a call today at 619.591.8945 and we’ll help you plan your visit.