cavity filling

How Does a Professional Cavity Filling Work? This is What to Expect

If you’re an adult living in American, odds are you have one or more cavities.

That’s right, a 2012 study found that a whopping 91% of adults between 20 and 64 years of age had at least one cavity (AKA dental caries) in a permanent tooth. What’s more, over 25% of people haven’t sought treatment from a dentist.

It should be no surprise, then, when your dentist drops the news that you need a cavity filling.

Yet, knowing dental caries is no rare thing doesn’t mean you understand what to expect during a cavity treatment. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide to fillings: what they are, why you might need them, and what to expect from the procedure.

Don’t walk into your cavity filling appointment anxious. Keep reading for absolutely everything you need to know to feel prepared and put your mind at ease.

What Exactly is a Cavity Filling?

A filling is a substance injected into the tooth to replace decay and prevent infection. Depending on your budget, there are different types of fillings you can get. Aside from the price, the difference between these materials is color and strength.

These include:

  • Amalgam
  • Composite
  • Metal (i.e., gold or silver)
  • Ceramic
  • An acrylic/glass blend (AKA glass ionomer)

Of these, amalgam and composite fillings are most common.

Amalgam fillings are extremely strong, relatively inexpensive, and have a wealth of evidence to support their use. The filling material itself is a blend of metallic elements. For this reason, amalgam fillings are visible when you open your mouth.

Composite fillings are also called filled resins. Because they’re made from a mix of glass and quartz, composites match your natural teeth and aren’t visible when you laugh or open your mouth. While this isn’t as strong as amalgam, composites are more than sufficient for low-impact cavity fillings.

Why a Filling is What the Dentist Ordered

You may be wondering: why did my dentist recommend a filling in the first place?

Most people need fillings because they have cavities, which are a form of tooth decay. When bacteria sticks to your teeth in the form of plaque, it can break down the enamel. Over time, this creates a small hole in the tooth, also known as a cavity or dental caries.

Getting a filling treats the problem in two ways. First, the dentist removes all that decaying tooth material to prevent further decay or, worse, infections. Secondly, fillings close off the hole in your tooth to reduce the risk for future dental caries.

When you need a filling for something other than a cavity, it’s usually because of damaged or broken teeth. For example, if you suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding), your dentist may suggest fillings to repair the wear or tear.

What to Expect During a Cavity Filling

A cavity filling is a simple procedure that takes place at your local dentist’s office. The entire appointment takes around an hour, including the time it takes for x-rays and the filling itself.

Still anxious about your dental appointment? Knowing what to expect during and after the procedure may help put your mind at ease.

During the Filling Procedure

Before your dentist begins the procedure, he or she will numb the teeth, gums, and skin around the cavity. This will help lessen any pain or discomfort you experience during the next step: drilling into the cavity. Drilling is necessary because this is the step where the dentist removes the cavity.

Once the cavity is drilled out, your dentist will add the filling. From drilling to filling, the whole procedure takes only a few minutes.

Post-Care Recommendations

Post-filling, your mouth will feel numb for a few hours. Since it’s just local anesthesia, though, you shouldn’t experience any problems operating a vehicle or returning to work. Once the anesthesia wears off, you may experience mild pain that’s easily treated with over-the-counter medication.

Aside from mild pain, there aren’t any risks or post-care life changes to worry about. You should return to your regular oral health routine, with any added changes your dentist might recommend. On the rare chance that infection, damage, or any other complications do arise, contact your dentist.

How to Prevent a Cavity in the Future

Fillings help prevent cavities from getting worse, but how can you stop a cavity from forming in the first place?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, cavities develop when your teeth are exposed to acidic substances. For example, after you eat or drink excessive amounts of sugar and starch.

The minerals in your teeth are vital to keeping them healthy and strong. Yet, when acid repeatedly attacks those minerals, they start to die off.

If that happens, you may begin to see one of the very first signs of tooth decay: white spots on your enamel.

Don’t worry, though, because these white spots mean it’s not too late to reverse a cavity in its tracks. Restoring lost minerals through food particles in the saliva or fluoride toothpaste helps reduce the risk of developing a cavity.

That means if you want to prevent having to get fillings in the future, you should eat a low-starch, low-sugar, nutritious diet and brush your teeth at least twice per day.

See a Dentist in Lone Tree, CO

If you want healthy teeth for years to come, preventing and treating dental caries is absolutely vital.

So, instead of dreading your upcoming fillings, smile! Because you’re doing something great for your oral health that’ll pay off for years to come.

Looking for a dentist in Lone Tree for a cavity filling or preventative treatment? Contact us today or stop by the office to set up an appointment!


5 Reasons You Need Regular Dental Checkups

More Americans fear dental checkups than clowns. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of people have an extreme phobia of dental visits. 

If you’re in the other 80 percent of adults, you should be visiting the dentist once every six months. Dental checkups are often forgotten with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

But the impact of neglecting your smile can have consequences. Check out this list of top five reasons you need dental checkups.

5. Gum Disease Detection

Gum disease isn’t usually the topic of small talk but it has a big impact on your appearance. When bacteria get down into the roots of your teeth, your whole mouth suffers.

Gum disease causes infection and inflammation. Waiting too long to address poorly maintained gums can also lead to tooth loss.

It is estimated that more than 100 million Americans experience tooth loss due to gum disease. Losing teeth will affect a person’s self-esteem and jawline. 

Not everyone can tell when bacteria enter the gumline. Experiencing zero pain can give you a false sense of confidence that your gums are in healthy condition.

Getting regular dental checkups allows you to prevent or reverse gum disease. Dentists use special tools to detect whether there are bacteria in the gums and take steps to minimize the damage. 

4. Get Rid of Stains

Simple habits can lead to major stains on the teeth. This might not be an immediate health risk, but why not have a beautiful smile if you can?

Coffee and tea are the top culprits for stained teeth. See your dentist right away if you’re a regular coffee drinker.

You might not realize the potential whiteness of your teeth until you get a proper cleaning. A dentist can recommend over-the-counter treatment solutions at home that prevent future staining.

3. Cancer Detection

A major reason to get regular dental checkups is to detect oral cancer. If you have a history of cancer in your family, you may be at risk for oral cancer.

Early cancer detection, like gum disease, offers a wider range of treatment options. Cancer exams are pain-free and relatively quick.

Expect your cancer screening to be over in a matter of minutes. The results will provide your dentist with an in-depth view of your oral health. 

This life-threatening disease won’t always come with symptoms so avoid the temptation to self diagnose. Avoid the fast spread of oral cancer by allowing your dentist to perform screenings twice per year.  

2. Self Care

Just like going to the gym or practicing yoga, maintaining good dental health is a form of self-care. Give your mouth a good deep cleaning as it supports your body by breaking down food throughout the day.

Your teeth need to be pampered with plaque removal and cavity detection to remain strong. Strong healthy teeth lead to a great smile.

Crooked teeth can make you feel self-conscious in ways that affect your confidence levels at work and at home. Consider cosmetic services to enhance any places in your mouth that make you feel uncomfortable. 

Specialty services come in a variety of price ranges to fit any budget. Many dentists offer financing plans on cosmetic services that insurance won’t cover.

Make an investment in yourself that can last a lifetime. Support yourself between dental visits by brushing your teeth twice each day.

Talk to your dentist about the best products to use to brighten your smile.   

1. Insurance Covers It

If we are lucky, most of us won’t get our money’s worth from insurance premiums throughout the year. While this is great news for emergency medical care, it is bad news for dental checkups.

Health insurance premiums are higher than ever.  Get the most out of your health insurance policy by visiting your dentist regularly. 

What to Expect From Checkups

Dental checkups have become faster with advances in oral health technology. But if it’s been years since you’ve stepped foot in a dentist’s office, you might need more work than usual.

Here’s what to expect from a dental visit if you haven’t gone in a while.

Dental X-Rays

Dentists will take x-rays of your mouth from end to end. They’ll start with broad x-rays and then take images of each section.

X-rays help the dentist identify major and minor issues with your teeth and gums. If you have cavities, x-rays tell dentists how severe they are. 

You shouldn’t need x-rays at your next visit if your overall mouth is healthy. The dentist will discuss whether x-rays are necessary the following year based on whether you’re at risk for disease.

Keep in mind that radiation from x-rays is low but still not recommended if you’re pregnant. The radiation might impact other conditions so talk to your dentist if you have concerns. 

Oral Exam

During the oral exam is where most dental anxiety arises. The hygienist will poke at your gums and teeth to determine their health.

This phase of the process can include teeth cleaning using fluoride or cleaning without. Fluoride is often an additional fee due at the time of service if not covered by an insurance provider. 

The hygienist will let the dentist know of any problem areas visible in your teeth from the exam. Following your x-rays and cleaning, the dentist will come in to examine your teeth and provide recommendations if treatment is necessary.

The Importance of Dental Checkups

There’s a magical feeling behind a bright white smile. Keep this feeling between dental checkups by avoiding food and drink that create stains on your teeth.

Not everyone can give up coffee cold turkey, but cutting back on the number of cups you drink each day is a start. The goal is to get your teeth looking great and bacteria at bay.

For more oral care tips, please check our blog for updates. 

nutrition and oral health

Nutrition and Oral Health: A Guide to Healthy Eating Habits for Strong Teeth & Healthy Gums

Today, we know that good nutrition and oral health are closely aligned, but it wasn’t always that way. Some early 1900s dental products went against pretty much everything dental professionals of today stand for.

Take Greenland Studios “Whiskey Tooth Paste,” for instance. (Genuine 6-Proof Stuff!) The alcoholic toothpaste from yesteryear even encouraged you to “rinse with soda” when you were through.

We’ve come a long way in understanding the connection between good nutrition and oral health. In the following article, we’re going to teach you healthy eating habits that will fortify your teeth and gums. But first, let’s look a little further into the connection they share.

Connecting Dental Health and Nutrition

Eating is generally looked at as the activity that makes you have to brush your teeth. Even the best foods for oral health can be bad for your teeth if you’re using poor hygiene practices.

The American Dental Association tells you to brush a minimum of twice per day for a reason. Mainly, they know it’s a fool’s errand to advise more than that because 30% of people don’t even do that.

The reality is that people eat three to six times per day. By only brushing twice, they’re allowing more food to stay on their teeth for longer than dentists recommend. That creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

Bacteria attack the enamel, weaken the gums, and speed up the development of cavities. Eating foods that contain the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins can help guard against this even if you’re not brushing as often as you should.

What should you eat? Better yet, which behaviors should you engage in to maintain a strong and healthy connection between what you eat and your oral health? Here are seven suggestions.

1. Eat the Right Foods

The best thing you can do if you want to maintain good oral hygiene is to start with your diet. Load up on the good foods and eliminate the bad.

By “good” foods, we mean foods that deliver the proper calcium for bone and enamel health. Any foods rich in vitamins for strong teeth will do. Think cheese, leafy greens, and different forms of nuts (especially almonds).

You’ll also want to target proteins that are high in phosphorus. Fish and eggs are two great options.

Cranberries and teas (no sugar added) can keep your teeth smooth enough to give plaque no surface to cling to. Plaque buildup is a leading cause of gingivitis.

Beyond the foods that are good for you, learn which ones aren’t and avoid them like the plague. Sugary gums and most candies are among the guiltiest of culprits.

2. Choose the Best Meal Times

Think about when you’re eating. Most people eat something to start the day, in the middle of the day, and early evening. Others throw in a dessert just before bed.

Others eat smaller meals and keep snacking throughout the day. Any of these can work so long as you’re coordinating them with your hygiene schedule.

If you only brush once per day in the morning, you’ll have to deal with three meals of sugar buildup and food between your teeth until the next morning. That’s just asking for a cavity.

Twice per day isn’t much better if you’re eating a sugary snack before bed and after the second brushing. Be strategic about when you’re brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. Don’t let your meal have the last word.

3. Closely Watch Macronutrients

Beyond the intake of vitamins for teeth and gums, you should also watch other macronutrients. Pay attention to four in particular. They are:

  • Fiber grams: Most adult women should consume from 20 to 25 grams of fiber a day for good digestive health; men, 25-30 grams. Aside from digestive health, fiber helps keep you full and steers you away from those sugary snacks.
  • Protein grams: If you’re a sedentary man or woman, you should eat around 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day in protein. This will help you maintain feelings of fullness while preserving muscle over fat.
  • Sugar grams: As few as possible should be your goal here. Added sugars to any food are hard on your body and bad for your teeth.
  • Saturated fat grams: Your body needs saturated fats, but some people eat too many of them. The recommended amount for a sedentary person is around 13 grams per day, or 120 daily calories per 2,000 consumed.

To the last point, foods high in saturated fat can get lodged in your teeth. If you’re not flossing as you should, it can lead to bad breath and tooth decay.

4. Commit to Hygiene

Make an effort to brush and floss every day. Consider purchasing floss picks for added convenience, as well as leaving a tube of toothpaste and toothbrush at the office.

Sneak off to the restroom or take care of it in your car during lunch. There’s always an opportunity to care for your teeth. You just have to fit it into your schedule.

5. Avoid Restaurants

It’s not that you can’t get good food at restaurants. It’s just the temptation to eat poorly is so strong because, as the thought process goes, you want your money’s worth. For many of us, that means overeating.

It also means eating the wrong thing. And restaurants cook more for flavor than nutrition, so a dish you would normally eat at home thinking it’s healthy could have hundreds of more calories in additional fats and oils.

6. Drink Nutritiously

Here, we cover two things: what to drink and what not to drink. Of course, you should be drinking plenty of water each day. How much is the right amount?

We recommend one-half ounce per pound of bodyweight so that a 200-pound man is drinking 100 ounces per day. Water is great for thinning out foods and washing away bacteria. Drink it every chance you get.

With few exceptions, you should avoid alcohol and sodas. Both are high in sugars and acidic for your enamel and gums. Red wine is the only “safe” alcohol for dental health, and even then, you should use it in moderation.

Nutrition and Oral Health Are Inextricably Linked

Nutrition and oral health complement each other. Eating well pays dividends through a healthier smile, and your smile can often warn you about deficiencies in your nutrition and overall health.

Make sure your dental bill of health is a clean one. Contact Willow Creek Dental today if you need a checkup or cleaning, or if you’d just like to discuss some more dietary solutions for your dental health.

How Many Times Per Year Should You Get Dental X-Rays and Why?

How Many Dental X-Rays Should You Get A Year

There are a lot of possible reasons why you might want to get dental x-rays occasionally. Depending on what your dentist says and what your dental health is like, you might be looking at a period of more than 2-3 years between your dental x-rays, so it usually won’t be required all that often.


The times when dental x-rays are required will include times when your dentist discovers new cavities and complications resulting from various dental works. Other, rarer conditions and problems, as well as the need for braces or corrective dentistry procedures might also warrant the need for dental x-rays.  Dental x-rays are needed when you get cosmetic dentistry Lone Tree area services done.


If you have perfect dental health, your dentist will usually recommend that you get your x-rays once every 3 years. The reason is because they will want to check your molars for beginning cavities and to verify whether your teeth continue to stay as healthy as always.


The only exception to this rule is in the case of children. Since kids have teeth that are in a constant state of development, they may need much more frequent dental x-rays. According to most pediatric dentists, you might be looking at a period of less than a year between x-rays as a precaution, even if your child is developing normally.

Red Wine and Its Remarkable Qualities Contributing to Improved Dental Health

Alcohol has long been linked to having an adverse effect on health in general and oral health in particular. Alcohol is known to cause accelerated tooth decay and also affect the gums. Fortunately, however, there is one alcohol beverage that has a much better chance at helping than hindering your dental health: red wine.


There are several things we know about red wine that might surprise you:


  • Drinking red wine has long been linked to a lowered risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Improving overall body health can also have a positive effect on oral health.
  • Recent studies have found that wine polyphenols affect the ability of certain harmful bacteria from clinging to the cells of your teeth and gums, causing problems like plaque, gingivitis and dental cavities.
  • Red wine is also believed to promote the growth of “good” bacteria, which protects your teeth against decay, rather than hindering your oral health.  Note, you should make regular trips to the Lone Tree family dentistry office to assure teeth health.


All these facts show great promise in the moderated use of red wine in not only preventing dental health problems, but improving oral health as a whole. If you like alcohol, then keeping your habit under control with the choice of a refined red wine and avoiding drinking too much should be the top most important things on your agenda.

Do Oral Irrigators Work, Or Should You Just Stick to Your Toothbrush?

Best Tools In Between Dentist Visit

Many experts will agree that there’s no substitute for a good toothbrush and a reliable toothpaste. However, with new advancements in dentistry, devices like the oral irrigator have already made their way into the homes of many patients throughout the world.


If you suffer from gum disease, or you want to get rid of your plaque without going to the dentist, then using oral irrigators is your best choice. But do these devices really work?


Depending on the strength of the device and the specific number of pulses per minute that it is capable of, the performance it offers can be greater or less impressive. Experts have found that, when used correctly, a water jet that has about 50-80 psi (medium pressure) and more than 1,000 pulses per minute, can effectively remove plaque.


Now, depending on what other things you want to do with the device, it might not work as easily or using the same settings. Moreover, you also have to account for factors such as how sensitive your gums are and how much plaque you have. In some cases, you won’t be able to get rid of all the plaque – as some manufacturers might advertise – and the oral irrigator is certainly no substitute for your regular visits to the Lone Tree family dentistry office.

Are Sugary Foods Harming My Teeth?

Dental Health

Sugar is the worst enemy of our teeth. Whenever we consume sugary foods or sweet beverages, a chain of events starts that weakens the outermost protective layer of the teeth called the enamel. The teeth are under almost constant attack by sugars – when sugar reaches into the oral cavity, the bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth start transforming that sugar into acids that demineralize the enamel on the teeth, weakening it. If the amount of the sugar consumed is kept at bay, the body starts a process called remineralization to counter the harmful effects of sugar, but if the remineralization process is not efficient enough, either because the quantity of sugars is too large or because the body cannot supply the teeth with sufficient minerals from the diet to restore the strength of the enamel, cavities start to appear as the result of the harmful action of acids.

There are several methods that you can combine to make sure that the enamel on your teeth stay strong enough. Thorough dental hygiene is the best way to eliminate harmful acids from your mouth, especially if you use a fluoride toothpaste that instantly re-mineralizes your teeth and you can – and should – also reduce the amount of sugar consumed. To strengthen the tooth from the inside, try to consume foods that are rich in calcium, too – dairy products are the best sources of the mineral.  Taking a trip to the Highlands Ranch dental office for a dental check up is always advised, to keep up with your teeth and keep them healthy.

How Many Times Should Your Child Go to the Dentist?

How Often To Take Trips To The Dentist

How often should you consider taking your child to see the dentist in Highlands Ranch community? Although this is a problem that many parents struggle with, there isn’t a sure way to find a definite answer to it. Dentistry doesn’t work the same for each person, since we each have different tooth structures and different dental problems we are coping with.


However, dentists can still provide you with a general guideline as to the frequency of taking your child for a checkup, as long as you take them a few times per year during the beginning stages of their development.


The AAPD recommends that you start taking your child to a certified pediatric dentist as soon as they develop their first tooth. Once that happens, your dentist will likely ask you to return at least once every six months, depending on your child’s developmental issues, and whether they need any kind of special care.


In the event that your child has certain complications, such as increased tooth decay, fluoride deficiency, gum disease or the need to realign their teeth with products like Invisalign, then there will be a need that they pay more frequent visits to the family dentist, or even to an expert pediatric dentist.


However, even before you find out about these types of issues, you’ll find it necessary to take your child to the dentist at least 1-2 times per year. Some dentists will recommend even more frequent checkups, if your child has weaker teeth or developmental problems.

sticking out tonge

Bad Breath That Won’t Go Away? The Culprit Just Might Be Your Tongue?

The majority of people living in the Denver Metro area may brush and floss twice a day and even sneak in an extra tooth brushing after lunch, but even doing this, they still might have bad breath. What’s the culprit causing this you ask? Your tongue. Until you start cleaning your tongue on a daily basis, you may not be able to get rid of lingering halitosis (aka bad breath). Each time you grab your toothbrush, toothpaste and floss to take care of your teeth, let’s not forget to take of your tongue too. These simple oral health habits will make a difference.Willow Creek Dental recommends using a Tongue Scrapper to reduce your bad breath

Best Tongue Brushing Techniques

After you have spent 2 minutes brushing your teeth, it’s time to focus on your tongue. It’s important to focus on your tongue, each and every time you brush your teeth, because the tongue harbors bacteria and food particles trapped under a thin layer of mucus.

It can be as simple as using the bristles of your toothbrush to clean your tongue. To remove this odor-causing buildup, put a small dab of toothpaste on your toothbrush and carefully brush the top of the tongue. Start by reaching to the back of the tongue, and then work forward toward the opening of the mouth. Brush the entire top surface of the tongue using gentle pressure, and finish by rinsing with water. (Source: Colgate Oral Care Center)

Tips on how Best to Use a Tongue Scraper

If you want to up your game in the fight against bad breath, use a tongue scraper. This tool is usually made of soft, flexible plastic and gently peels the thin mucus-based layer of debris from the tongue. Rinse the scraper under warm water after each swipe of the tongue.

If your tongue feels sore or begins to bleed, you most likely are using the tongue scraper with too much force. Work slowly and with light pressure. Concentrate on the center of the tongue where the bulk of odor-causing bacteria lies.

How Often Should YOU Clean Your Tongue?

Our dentists and team of amazing hygienists at Willow Creek Dental recommend that you either brush your tongue or use a tongue scrapper each time after you brush and floss your teeth. A mouthwash rinse after cleaning your tongue will moisturize the mouth and kill any additional bacteria.

For good oral health and maintaining fresh breath it will take more than routine tooth brushing. Start today and get into the habit of focusing on your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Adding this ritual into your daily oral care regime will help you keep your breath neutral and fresh. If your bad breath continues even after weeks of cleaning your tongue every time you brush your teeth, call us 303-779-2797 to schedule an appointment for a dental exam and cleaning.

Tips for Health Teeth

5 things you can do to keep your teeth healthy

Brushing and flossing twice a day will keep your teeth clean, but there are a few other things you can do to keep your teeth healthy.

Check out these 5 simple things the team at Willow Creek Dental recommends that you start today to make a positive difference with your smile.

  1. Take Care of Your Toothbrush
    For healthy teeth, your toothbrush is very important. After you brush your teeth it’s necessary to take care of your toothbrush. Rinse it well after brushing. Then, in an upright position, make sure to store it out in the open, away from your toilet, to allow for plenty of air flow around the bristles to keep your brush dry as microorganisms that can grow on your toothbrush tend to thrive in a moist environment. If the bristles on your toothbrush begin to fray or look worn, change it. Even if they don’t look worn, Willow Creek Dental and the American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three months, sooner after an illness like a cold or flu.
  2. Think before you Drink
    What you drink can affect the health of your teeth. Beverages such as soft drinks and sugary juices have been targeted as culprits of tooth decay. Drinking less soda and more water, milk and fresh juices can help protect your teeth.
  3. Brush your Tongue
    When you’re brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue to help fight the bacteria in your mouth. Tongue brushing is not only essential for keeping your teeth healthy, it also helps to stop bad breath. We recommend using a toothbrush with a cheek and tongue cleaner so you can easily remove bacteria from your mouth every time you brush.
  4. Avoid Tobacco
    Do you and your teeth a big favor and avoid tobacco. By eliminating tobacco, it will save you from a higher risk of oral cancer and periodontal complications.

  5. Visit Your Dentist
    If you haven’t been to a dentist in the last 6-months, that is okay, we won’t judge. Today is the day to change this trend and call us at (303) 779-2797 to set up a cleaning or for a free consultation on any of your dental issues, fears, or concerns. It’s important to visit your dentist at least twice a year to have a full hygiene treatment performed. During your visit, we will include a comprehensive exam with x-rays to help detect and prevent future dental treatments from occurring