Tooth Decay & Fillings

Tooth Decay

Dental caries (tooth decay or cavity) is a permanently damaged area in the hard surface of the tooth. Tooth decay has its origin in a bacterial infection which causes destruction of the hard tissue of the tooth by bacterial fermentation of food debris in the dental plaque, which results in production of acid. Poor oral hygiene, frequent snacking and sipping of sugary drinks increase the speed with which the dental plaque is built up.

The bacteria most responsible for dental caries are lactobacilli and different strains of streptococci, especially Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria produce acid in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates, especially sucrose (table sugar). The mineral in the teeth is sensitive to an increase in acidity from the production of lactic acid. When the pH at the surface of the tooth drops below 5.5, there is demineralization, that is, mineral is lost from the tooth. Each time we eat or drink something, especially something containing sugar, a new acid attack occurs. Individuals with little saliva, especially due to radiation therapy in the head and neck area, which has led to destruction of the salivary glands, are particularly susceptible to dental caries, as they have much less possibility to reduce the effect of the acid attack due to severely reduced amount of saliva.

Tooth decay is one of the most common dental health problems. Cavities are especially common in children, teenagers and older adults, however; anyone who has teeth can get cavities, including infants. Once the caries has been removed, a filling is made to give the tooth back its original shape.

If cavities are not treated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. It can lead to severe toothache, infection and ultimately in advanced stages, it might not be possible to save the tooth. Regular dental visits and good brushing and flossing habits go a long way toward preventing tooth decay.

Tooth Decay & Fillings


Today, many patients want to remove their amalgam fillings, which either have a silver color or appear all black. Most often the alternative is a composite filling; often referred to as a white filling. If a very large filling is needed in one of your back teeth (molars), where one generally bites with much more force, a composite filling might not be the best choice. Talk to our dentist, Dr. Mattis Mamusa, at Stockholm Dental Clinic in Puerto Banus, Marbella about other options.

When it is decided that a composite filling needs to be done, all decay (caries) is removed from the tooth and a thin layer of bonding material (which acts like a glue for the filling material) is placed on the inside of the cavity. Composite is placed in the cavity in thin layers. Each layer is hardened with the help of a special light which is held over the tooth (UV-light or ultra-violet light). When the last layer of the filling material is hard, your dentist shapes the filling so it looks and feels like a natural tooth.

Besides using composite for fillings, it can also be used for cosmetic improvement of your smile, by changing the color of teeth or by reshaping teeth which have lost their normal shape because of grinding.

Advantages with composite fillings include:

  • Good aesthetics - since our dentist can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composite is bonded to the tooth. Therefore, the remaining tooth structure is supported by the filling material, which helps to prevent fractures.
  • They cost less than porcelain inlays.
  • They are done in one dental appointment.