There are three aspects to fixing cavities.
1. First, the decay or rotting tooth structure must be removed. If decay is not removed, like cancer, the destruction of the tooth will continue.
2. Second, the cavity has to be sealed so that food and bacteria cannot re- enter the cavity and start the decay again. This is very important because while the exterior of a tooth can be brushed and flossed free of bacteria, the inside of a cavity cannot. That is why a leaking filling or open cavity must be cleaned out and sealed.
3. Third, the repair of the cavity must replace the missing tooth structure for chewing and be strong enough so it does not break open and start to leak. In fixing cavities, the choice of what to do is based on selecting the best material to seal the cavity and restore the missing tooth structure. The analysis of a cavity is based on how big it is. Bigger cavities need stronger material. Smaller ones do not need great strength as much as they need a good seal. To simplify this, we classify cavities as very small, small, medium, large and very large. The very small and small ones can be repaired with laser-bonded composite restorations. They have good strength and provide an excellent seal.
The large cavities, because of the amount of missing tooth structure, need something stronger than a filling, so we recommend custom-cast onlays. These can be made of gold or, today, more commonly, tooth-colored ceramic porcelain. The very large cavities, where most of the tooth structure has been destroyed, need complete crowns to fix them. The medium-sized cavities, depending on the specific tooth involved and the biting forces on the tooth, can sometimes be fixed with a laser-bonded filling, and sometimes need an onlay.
Click here to see examples of each type of cavity and how it is fixed
Please note that we cannot guarantee that the solutions offered here are definitely applicable to your condition since we have not examined your mouth. However, if you know the solutions that are generally applied to dental problems, you will be much better informed and will likely make better decisions in your own dental health care.