Know Your Teeth: Tooth Decay and Fillings


Understanding cavities starts with a basic knowledge of tooth anatomy. Teeth consist of several layers. The outer covering of the tooth is made up of material called enamel, and it’s the hardest substance in the human body. Under the gum line, cementum covers each tooth’s root. Beneath this lies dentin, which contains nerve endings. The deepest layer is called the pulp, and it contains the tooth’s vascular structure and nerve center. After teeth are fully developed, the pulp’s only purpose it to alert us when it is damaged. It does this through transmitting pain.

What Causes Tooth Decay?
Food can easily become trapped in the pits and grooves of a tooth’s biting surfaces, and plaque left behind can start to cause tooth decay. The damage soon spreads from their thin surface to the tooth’s underlying dentin. The second way a cavity attacks is from a smoother surface between teeth or on the front and back. The affected area is usually wide and comes to a point at the entrance to deeper layers of the tooth.

Finding and Treating Cavities
Hands-on visual exams and use of an explorer probe can help your dentist locate areas of decay. X-ray examinations, especially bitewing x-rays, reveal tooth decay wedged between teeth and under the gum line. When these methods don’t reveal enough information, your dentist may use a disclosing solution to test suspicious areas. If a cavity extends into the dentin, treatment is necessary. The two-part goal of cavity treatment includes removing decay and replacing it with a filling material. After injecting a local anesthetic, the dentist uses a high-speed dental drill to remove all decayed portions of the tooth and prepare it for a filling. A liner is often inserted into the tooth to reduce sensitivity. Base cements may be added to deeper fillings for temperature insulation. The filling is usually made from amalgam, resin, porcelain, or gold. Fillings are layered on top of the liner to rebuild its structure.

Cavity Prevention
Affordable dentists can repair most decayed teeth, but cavity prevention is always preferable. The easiest way to avoid the dental drill is to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brush at least twice every day, and floss once daily. Avoid or limit sugary snacks and drinks, and visit your dentist regularly.

To learn about our family dentistry practice in Peoria, call Maple Shade Dental Group today at (855) 979-3356 or make an appointment.

Maple Shade Dental Group offers affordable family dentistry and gentle, compassionate dental care in Peoria. With 3 affiliated practices throughout Illinois, our offices are conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Maple Shade Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover an affordable dentist who truly cares at Maple Shade Dental Group.

Read What Our Patients Say
Patient Reviews
Friendly staff, quick visit and great service provided.
Michelle F.
We always receive friendly professional and efficient service!
Gabriel T.
Dr. Wolf and his staff are amazing. They put you at ease and genuinely care about their patients. As someone with dentist anxiety, I had a great experience and highly recommend them.
Audra R.
What a GREAT dental office!! The staff & doctors are wonderful & caring professionals. Every time I go there it feels like visiting family. If you are looking for a dental office that cares […]
Deborah P.
Everyone is very pleasant, and caring.
Rodney L.
The Staff at Maple Shade provide excellent customer service. They make the dental experience truly feel like you’received at a picnic with friends and family.
Zhetta T.
The people that work there are so friendly they know me by name even when they see me outside the office those are the kind of people that make everyone keep coming back maybe that’s why I been […]
Terrell H.
My family loves Maple Shade Dental! Dr Shanahan is an Amazing dentist!!
Trista A.
Really kind people, calm appealing environment, quick visits. Would recommend.
Doctor Ruffner is amazing! He really cares about his patients and about the work he does. He knows I have terrible anxiety but he still wipes the tears away when I’m having a hard time. I can’t […]
Sara L.
Everyone was very friendly and extremely helpful
Raelene F.
Everyone is friendly and cares about my dental health. True professionals.
Steven G.
I always receive wonderful care at Maple Shade Dental Group. Karen is a fantastic hygienist and Drs. Shanahan and Ruffner are both excellent dentists.
Janet M.
Good service, right in and out with minimal wait
Theodore S.
Jenn and Julie always make me feel welcome in addition to taking care of my dental questions, cleaning, and related billing.
Ray N.
All staff has been pleasant to deal with.
Tracy S.
I was delightfully impressed with every flow of Maple Shade. Honestly i am Extremely critical of dentists and anything pertaining. I was highly impressed.
Pamela B.
Dental hygienists are very professional! Wendy is incredible with my kids!
Mary R.
Dr. Ruffner and his assistant today were very understanding and made the visit and repair work as pleasant as could be. I got in right away the same day I called.
Cathy W.
Dental hygienist was one of the best that has ever cleaned my teeth.
Richard K.
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