Tooth Filling Tacoma WA

Nobody wants to hear they have a cavity. Yet cavities are a simple fix compared to all the other complications a cavity can cause. It’s hard to believe that something as serious as heart disease can come from not taking care of your teeth. Save yourself the physical and mental pain that results in not getting a filling done right away.

Today’s advancements in filling material eliminate the embarrassment of unattractive and unhealthy silver/mercury fillings for teeth or metal margins of the past.  We are able to replace the dark, black appearance in your teeth with new-age, state-of-the-art, tooth-colored resin or porcelain materials.

Why time is of the essence for a cavity filling

Don’t be fooled, you don’t have to have a toothache in order to have a cavity filled. If your dentist has recommended that you get a dental filling. Don’t wait!

When cavities are not quickly fixed they grow and the decay gets closer and deeper to the nerve. Cavities can even spread to other teeth, resulting in more money and time spent in the dentist’s office.

For comparison, Root canals are typically 10 to 15 times more expensive than a tooth filling!

Get your cavity filled before more invasive action has to be taken, contact our office now.

How long does it take for a cavity to form?

There’s no simple answer to this question, like so many other questions the answer is: It depends. The reason the dentist sees you every 6 months is because it does take awhile before a cavity gets to the point of needing attention. However, early detection is key when it comes down to preventing other health issues.

What other issues can arise?

As mentioned, there are other serious health concerns that come about when cavities aren’t promptly taken care of. Some of these include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Heart Disease
  3. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
  4. Root Canal
  5. Dental Bridge
  6. Heartburn

How are cavities formed?

All the sweet gifts over the holidays can make one wonder: Just how long does it take for a cavity to form?

Like so many questions the answer is: It depends.

The good news is that if you had a fresh start on December 1st then a cavity didn’t occur over the past couple of weeks of sweet indulgence.  The reason the dentist sees you every 6 months is that it takes a while before a cavity gets to the point of needing attention.

To understand how long it might take for a cavity to form in your mouth it’s a good idea to understand the process itself.  A hard mineral called enamel protects our teeth.  Problems arise when enamel starts to break down due to contact with acid.  The acid in your mouth is a result of bacteria and bacteria build-up when it gets fed a lot, and bacteria eat what we eat.  It so happens its favorites are sugars and starches (our favorites too).  When bacteria starts to build up it forms plaque and that is where the problem lies. Plaque holds the acid and it sits on teeth causing decay.

When is a Filling Needed?

Only your dentist can determine whether you have a cavity that needs a filling. This will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay. A filling will restore a damaged tooth back to normal function and will prevent further decay.

How To Avoid Getting Cavities!

You already know what to do, but until it’s a habit you need to keep reminding yourself: Brush and floss daily and drink plenty of water.  Avoid sugar and starch to the best of your ability (good to do anyway), and don’t skip your twice-yearly dental visits. Here are some little-known ways to fight cavities.

Sugar-Free Gum and Candies with Xylitol

Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol (a natural sugar substitute) helps in preventing tooth decay because bacteria cannot use it to grow and cannot metabolize it to produce acid. Look at the packaging to see if it is the first ingredient. If it is then chewing gum or consuming mints or even candy with this ingredient three to five times a day will help to prevent cavities.

A Coke with ice and a straw.

Use A Straw

Drink sugary and acidic drinks with with a straw. If you love sugary, acidic sodas and aren’t willing to give them up for health reasons, consider consuming them with a straw.  This will help to minimize the damage they can cause your teeth.  With that said, we still highly suggest cutting down or cutting sugary carbonated drinks from your diet

Eat Cheese

Calcium levels go up in the mouth after eating cheese and increased saliva calcium helps to re-mineralize teeth and prevent cavities. Some research has gone into the benefits of casein, a protein found in cheese that actually helps to promote healthy teeth Calcium levels go up in the mouth after eating cheese and increased saliva calcium helps to re-mineralize teeth and prevent cavities.  This is good news if you love cheese!

Dental Sealants

If cavities have been an issue and you want further help from the dentist in prevention, ask about dental sealants.  Dental sealants are a protective coating that is applied to the surface of the teeth. The sealant helps in preventing bacteria from growing and causing cavities. 


Drinking fluoride-treated water. Fluoride helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay.

Don’t Allow Thumb Sucking

Can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth.

Learn more about prevention by clicking here.

Click here to learn about Dental Care Tips.

Getting Your Cavity Fixed – Fillings

To treat a cavity we remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then replace the damaged tooth structure with a material. We also, replace old and often broken-down amalgam/metal fillings that contain mercury with white composite fillings to restore your smile and teeth to a more natural look and feel.

Again, the best option is prevention from other serious health issues. Get your tooth filling done as soon as possible. Fillings don’t take long and are not that expensive, especially if you have dental insurance.

Different Types of Fillings

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are the most popular and widely used kind. A huge advantage of a composite resin filling is that the dentist can match it to the color of your surrounding teeth. However, just like your natural teeth composite fillings do discolor over time. Composite fillings can also be bonded into place, which means less drilling!

Glass Ionomers Fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are a newer option available that are made from acrylic acids and fine-glass powders. They also can be made to blend in with surrounding teeth and can be designed to release small amounts of fluoride to prevent further decay. This type of filling can fracture, however, meaning that it won’t be appropriate for chewing surfaces.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam has been used for over a hundred years for fillings. Amalgam is a combination of copper, tin, silver, and mercury. They are incredibly durable, last a very long time, and are very inexpensive. The downside is that they are silver in color and do match natural teeth.

“Silver” Fillings

Silver fillings aren’t really silver, but are made of base metal alloys that look like silver. These too are very strong and inexpensive. Cavities filled with “silver” fillings are more prone to sensitivity and like amalgam, do not match natural teeth.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings are actually made of gold and other metals. They are very strong, but again do not match natural teeth.

Keep in mind that South Sound Dental also does other types of dental treatments other than teeth filling. Click here to look at all of our dental treatments.


How Long Can I Wait To Get My Cavity Filled?

So the dentist has told you that you have a cavity and wants to schedule you back in for a filling.  You’re not alone if you’re wondering if you can put the filling off for a later time.  You might also be thinking that since it doesn’t hurt maybe you don’t really need that filling after all.  Of course, that would be nice–but sadly SO not true!
The best thing to do is to get back in as soon as possible for the filling.  Fillings don’t take long and are not that expensive, especially if you have dental insurance.  However, if you wait, you’ll be looking at needing something more extensive and much more expensive. A root canal (usually is around 10 to 15 times more expensive).
What happens is that over time that cavity grows and the decay gets deeper and closer to the nerve.  Also, the decay can spread to other teeth with means more fillings, more time in the dentist chair, and yep more money as well, not to mention the pain associated with decay that is getting close to the nerve.

Another scary consequence of not taking care of your teeth is dementia. Experts studying the link between poor oral health and dementia believe that oral bacteria may spread to the brain through cranial nerves or through the bloodstream, contributing to the type of plaque associated with Alzheimer’s.

The bottom line, save yourself the physical pain and mental pain associated with tooth decay. Schedule your filling appointment right away.  And if you don’t have good dental hygiene habits now, we highly suggest adopting some as soon as possible.  We love seeing you, but we know you’d rather only see us for your regular cleaning and exams!  


Aren’t I Too Old To Be Getting Cavities?

Unfortunately not.  Tooth decay does not discriminate and can occur at every age.   And, as it so happens, changes in your mouth as you age can even make cavities an issue as an adult.  As we get older gums can start to pull away from our teeth exposing the roots to plaque. It is not uncommon for dentists to see decay around the edge of fillings as well.
Cavities can also occur in older adults because of medications that dry out the mouth reducing the flow of saliva.  This will increase the risk of getting cavities since saliva protects the teeth.
And of course, we can experience decay at any age due to the foods we eat.  Because we’re older doesn’t mean our sweet tooth goes away.  It means we have a better ability to resist the urge but just the same, there are foods that don’t wash away with our saliva and cling to the teeth.  Foods such as ice cream, sugar, chips, and milk will stick around and cause damage.  That is why it is very important that we brush and floss regularly, especially when consuming foods. Especially foods that tend to linger in the mouth to avoid getting a tooth filling.
You may not associate heartburn with tooth decay. But, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux can actually have a significant impact on our teeth If you have an issue with heartburn, it’s important to know that the flow of acid into your mouth will wear at the enamel of your teeth.  If you’re dealing with enamel loss you may want to talk to your doctor to see if it’s a contributing factor.
Yes, it would be nice if cavities didn’t have to be a concern after the age of 18, but it isn’t the case.  But, maintaining good oral hygiene habits will go a long way in preventing tooth decay. Regular check-ups and cleanings at the dentist will mean that any tooth decay that does occur will be caught before it becomes an even bigger issue.


Patient getting a dental filling