Cavities are caused when bacteria take hold and proliferate in the affected tooth. During the life cycle of bacteria, they “breathe”, and their respiration results in the production of acids that attack and sap the strength of dental structures such as enamel and dentine from within.
Cavities are treated with fillings: modern fillings are made from white composite resins, which are polymerised in the mouth instantly using blue-light lamps. If handled properly, this material can be used to deal with some cosmetic issues for a lower cost.
Grey fillings are made from mercury and silver alloys known as (silver) amalgams. In our practice, we use this silver amalgam only in very exceptional cases and for very unusual indications. All the more so as these fillings are known to discolour the teeth as they oxidise over time. Grey fillings are sometimes called “lead” fillings, which is a complete misnomer, since lead has never been used in dentistry as a filling material.
If the cavity isn’t dealt with quickly enough and the bacteria reach the living pulp inside the tooth housing the dental nerve, patients experience severe toothache. This terrible affliction can only be effectively dealt with through root treatment.
That’s why regular check-ups by the hygienist are crucial.
If the tooth cannot be repaired using classic conservative measures, we enter the realm of dental prosthetics: for instance, after a fracture or due to significant delay as a result of cavities waiting for treatment.