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When Is a Dental Filling the Best Solution?


No one wants to get a dental filling, but sometimes it’s the best way to address tooth decay. That doesn’t mean it’s always the right answer or the only answer. 

Here, our team at Dr. Aaronson & Associates in Midtown East, New York, New York, share some insight about how to treat the various stages of tooth decay and when dental fillings are the best option.

Early tooth decay

You don’t just wake up one morning with a cavity. Tooth decay begins without notice and progresses gradually. It starts when sticky, acidic plaque coats your teeth and begins to erode the surface. This softens the hard enamel and begins the process of breaching the outer layer. 

At this point, we can stop the decay from getting worse and, in some cases, even reverse it by taking a few proactive steps.


We can place microthin plastic “jackets” on the surface of your back molars to protect the nooks and valleys from developing decay from trapped food particles and plaque. While sealants are most effective as a preventive measure, they can also cover areas that show early signs of decay to stop the progression.

Fluoride varnish

We can restore the hardness of your enamel during the early stages of tooth decay by applying a thin layer of fluoride varnish on the surface. Your enamel absorbs the fluoride and forms a stronger protective barrier between your teeth.

Fluoride gel

The surfaces of your teeth that touch your cheeks, lips, and tongue may benefit from a fluoride gel treatment. We place a tray filled with fluoride gel over your teeth for a few minutes to allow the fluoride to seep into the surface.

When you need a dental filling

When decay has advanced beyond the early softening stage and has entered into your tooth, you have a dental carry, or what’s commonly called a cavity.

At this point, you may experience pain or see a hole in your tooth. The best way to address a full-fledged cavity is to remove the decayed material and fill the hole.

The good news is that we offer advanced laser dentistry here at Dr. Aaronson & Associates, and in many cases, we can do away with the traditional drilling and remove the decay with a quick and painless laser. You may not even need a local anesthetic. This removes any damaged tooth material and kills bacteria, so your tooth is ready to be repaired.

These days, fillings come in a variety of materials, including silver amalgam, composite, ceramic, glass ionomer, and gold. We use a tooth-colored filling that matches your unique tooth color.

When you need more than a dental filling

In the later stages of tooth decay, a filling may not be enough to repair the extensive damage. If the decay has entered the inner pulp of your tooth, we may recommend a root canal to clean out the inside and save your tooth.

If the decay is so severe that we can’t preserve the tooth even with a root canal, you may need a tooth extraction to prevent the infection from invading your other teeth and gums and entering your bloodstream, which can lead to systemic health problems. 

To find out if you have tooth decay and may need a filling, call us today or request an appointment using our online booking tool today. The sooner we treat it, the better your chances of avoiding the need for a filling. 

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