To treat a cavity your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then "fill" the area on the tooth where the decayed material once lived.
Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).
What Steps Are Involved in Filling a Tooth?
First, the dentist will numb the area around the tooth to be filled with a local anesthetic. Next, a drill, air abrasion dental instruments, or laser will be used to remove the decayed area. The choice of instrument depends on the individual dentist's comfort level, training, and investment in the particular piece of equipment as well as location and extent of the decay.
Next, your dentist will probe or test the area during the decay removal process to determine if all the decay has been removed. Once the decay has been removed, your dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Generally, after the filling is in, your dentist will finish and polish it.
In written testimony to a two-day joint panel meeting of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Dental Association (ADA) today reaffirms its position that dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.
According to the testimony, the ADA does not advocate for the use of one dental material over another, however it champions the principle that patients and their dentists should have access to the full range of safe and effective options for treating dental decay.
The ADA welcomes this review of the science by individuals from different disciplines. Recent publication of two well-designed, multi-year clinical trials (the Children's Amalgam Trials) will provide the panel with more evidence of amalgam's safety. These studies, published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compare the use of amalgam to composite dental fillings in two groups of children. The studies found no differences in I.Q. or kidney function of children with amalgam and those with composite fillings. The clinical trials' evidence as well as a number of other studies will be reviewed by the FDA joint panel.
The purpose of the FDA meeting is to gather facts and opinions. No specific regulatory action is expected to result from this hearing. In this periodic review of the dental material, the FDA has combined the expertise of the Dental Products Panel of the Medical Device Advisory Committee with the neurology expertise of the Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee to consider the peer-reviewed scientific studies on dental amalgam and any potential neurotoxic effects.