Conservative dental treatment is a treatment method that involves the early treatment of cavities that occur in the outer layers of the tooth, such as enamel and dentin, and filling the resulting cavity with an artificial filling material. Conservative dental treatment prevents the need for potential endodontic (root canal) treatment or tooth extraction.
Bacterial plaque formed by bacteria in the mouth can produce acid from residues of sugary and starchy foods that remain in the mouth. These acids dissolve the mineral structure of the teeth, causing damage to the tooth enamel and ultimately leading to the development of tooth decay.
The selection of the type of dental filling to be applied to the patient is of great importance and depends on factors such as the affected area, the chewing forces in that area, the patient’s aesthetic expectations, and the extent of substance loss.
Factors Causing Tooth Decay
Excessive consumption of acidic and sugary foods. When daily and regular tooth brushing is not performed, food debris that remains in the mouth creates an acidic environment and increases the risk of decay. If there is crowding of the teeth or if a toothbrush or dental floss cannot reach between the teeth, it becomes easier for tooth decay to occur.
Saliva is an oral fluid that protects the teeth against decay due to its composition. In some systemic diseases, such as diabetes, and in individuals with nighttime mouth breathing, saliva production decreases. A decrease in the cleansing properties of saliva can lead to an increase in the formation of tooth decay.
Tooth decay can occur on the chewing surfaces of teeth, in the contact areas between teeth, or in the cervical regions of teeth. Brown discoloration or cavities that are visible on the surfaces can be easily detected. However, in cases where decay has not caused these visible signs, a dental X-ray diagnosis is also necessary.
If decay that starts in the enamel of the tooth is left untreated, it progresses into the dentin tissue. Dentin is a structure that is more easily dissolved than enamel, which leads to a faster progression of decay. In a decay that has reached the dentin tissue, the patient may experience sensitivity to hot, cold, sour, or sweet stimuli. This pain subsides when the stimulus is removed.
Conservative Dental Treatment
In dentistry, conservative treatment starts with the dentist’s efforts to prevent the formation of decay and extends to the treatment of existing decay before it progresses too far or restoring the lost tooth structure by removing the decay.
The simplest form of conservative treatment is providing recommendations to prevent the formation of decay. The most well-known and common treatment method is the restoration of a decayed tooth using filling materials.
Dental Filling Applications
Dental filling procedures require the tooth structure to be compromised due to reasons such as decay, wear, discoloration, developmental issues, or trauma. The goal of the filling procedure is to restore the natural tooth and regain its lost aesthetics and function.
Various materials are used for dental fillings. The filling materials used today include amalgam, composite materials, and porcelain. While the use of amalgam, which is silver-colored and contains mercury, has decreased, the use of composite and porcelain fillings that match the natural tooth color has increased.
Types of Fillings
Amalgam Fillings: With its durability and affordability, amalgam has been the most preferred filling material for many years. However, the increasing aesthetic demands of dental patients, rumors about the effects of mercury in amalgam on human health, and advancements in adhesive systems (tooth-colored fillings) are causing this material to be gradually phased out.
Composite Fillings: These are tooth-colored restorations that are particularly preferred in cases where aesthetics are important. Due to their bonding properties with the tooth, it is not necessary to remove a significant amount of tooth structure as in amalgam fillings to ensure retention; only the removal of the decay is sufficient.