Dental caries or tooth decay is the most widely spread oral disease in the world that affects over 90% of people in Lithuania. Dental caries destructs the hard outer layers of your teeth – enamel and dentin – which protect the pulp – inner tooth tissue – from infections.
Poor tooth brushing, not flossing and incomplete elimination of food rests create the perfect conditions for caries to develop. Caries usually forms in the pits and grooves of the teeth. They are considered to be the the highest risk zones for caries as it is easier for food particles to stay there in comparison to other teeth surfaces.
That’s why to avoid caries proper individual oral hygiene and prophylaxis are very important.
The main preventive treatment for caries is the covering of tooth pits with sealants which is done for free at “Odonteja” as it is compensated by the Vilnius Territorial Health Insurance Fund. Also hygienists at our clinic can remove calculus build-up, treat gum inflammation and teach the patient proper individual oral hygiene.
If dental caries is diagnosed it has to be treated as soon as possible even if the patient doesn’t yet have any complaints. The peculiarity of this disease is that for a long time the patient doesn’t feel anything and when it starts hurting the process is often already has progressed and affected the deeper dental tissues. That’s why it is so important to come for check-ups from time to time so that it would be possible to catch the cavities at early stages.
Caries is treated by mechanical removing the affected tissues, cleaning and disinfecting the cavity and filling it. The procedure is generally done using local anesthesia. For the upper jaw and the front teeth area of the lower jaw infiltrative anesthesia is enough while in the molar area of the lower jaw regional anesthesia is applied.
The function of the filling is to restore the damaged tooth crown so that it could fully participate in chewing again, i.e. to restore the crown’s anatomy, function and aesthetic. For that photopolymeric fillings (that are set by light) are usually used even though composite resin fillings are also available (that harden by themselves). Composite resins are cheaper but they also experience more shrinkage upon curing causing the material to pull away from the walls of the cavity which makes the tooth more vulnerable to microleakage and recurrent decay. Taking everything into account most of the times the best choice are light-cured composite fillings (sometimes called helium fillings).
There are also silver or gold amalgams, glass ionomer fillings. Amalgam fillings are long-lasting but are not tooth-coloured and therefore can’t be used on front teeth only on molars. Glass ionomer fillings are used for long-term temporary restorations since they are more likely to wear and won’t recreate the right tooth anatomy.