There are some general dentist procedures that are very common amongst children and adults alike. One of the most common restorative procedures is the placement of a dental filling.
While dental fillings can be avoided, many people have at least one dental filling placed at some point in their life. If you have a decayed or damaged tooth, your dentist may suggest placing a dental filling. Below is some information about what dental fillings are, why you may need them and the process of having a filling placed.
What Is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a dental appliance that is used to restore a tooth that has been damaged or decayed. The placement of fillings is a very common dental procedure.
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Why Would I Need a Dental Filling?
Fillings are absolutely necessary after a cavity is treated. Fillings help to avoid future decay, while also restoring the strength and functionality to a tooth. Without a dental filling, your tooth may incur damage, such as cracks and breaks. You will also experience immense pain and sensitivity. If your dentist treats your cavity, they will more than likely insist that you have a dental filling placed afterwards to restore the tooth.
What Is the Placement Process?
The placement process of a dental filling begins with a trip to the dentist to have the issue diagnosed. Often times, people don’t even notice that they’ve developed a cavity. With a trip to the dentist every six months, your dentist can catch the cavity early, and place the dental filling.
Once your dentist has discovered a cavity, they will schedule a time with you to have the cavity repaired. Don’t wait too long, as the tooth decay will get worse over time. At the beginning of the procedure, your dentist will numb the area. This will help to ensure that you don’t feel any pain. From there, your dentist will begin removing the tooth decay. Once the decayed portions of the tooth have been removed, your dentist will clean the interior of the tooth, and begin the placement of the dental filling. This will involve the placement of the materials, which are then shaped to fit the tooth. Your dentist will have you bite down to ensure the filling is comfortable, and that it matches your bite. Once they are satisfied that the filling is properly placed, the
procedure is complete.
Dental Filling Aftercare
Right after the placement process of a dental filling, your mouth will still be numb. It’s best to wait until the numbness wears off to begin eating again. You may want to take some time off of work the day of the procedure, as speaking may be difficult. You also may experience a little soreness in the jaw. This can be resolves with over-the-counter pain medication. If you experience any more severe pain, contact the dentist. Also, it’s extremely important to contact your dentist if your filling becomes loose, damaged or falls out. The sooner the filling is repaired, the better.
It’s extremely important to understand that a dental filling doesn’t replace an entire tooth. Because of this, you need to continue to take care of the tooth that has been restored. The healthy portion of the tooth can still suffer from decay and infection. Not only will this compromise the filling, but it also may lead to more intensive repair options or—if left untreated—the tooth requiring extraction. Take just as good of care of your repaired tooth as you do the rest of your teeth.
Have a chip or other cosmetic blemish? Ask about dental bonding at one of your next cleanings.
How Do I Avoid Fillings in the Future?
The best treatment for cavities is to never get them in the first place. While sometimes they are difficult to avoid (even with decent care), they are avoidable. In order to ensure that you don’t get any cavities (or any future cavities), it is necessary to take proper care of your oral health.
This includes brushing, flossing and rinsing twice a day, every day. It also includes a trip to the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. If you have a family, make sure that every member of your family visits the dentist every six months for their checkup and cleaning.
It is during this checkup that your dentist can diagnose any issues with your teeth and/or gums, including tooth decay. From there, they can decide how to treat the issues. Cleanings are also extremely important, as they help to keep your teeth in proper shape—making it less likely that you will develop cavities.
If you don’t have an appointment in the books for your next cleaning and checkup, make sure to contact your dentist today. This appointment will allow them to properly diagnose any oral health issues, and will help to ensure your ongoing oral health.
What Are the Types of Dental Fillings?
Once your dentist has decided that you need to have a dental filling placed, they may walk you through various options for the materials they will use for your filling. Some of the materials that they may offer you include:
Amalgam (Silver) Fillings
Amalgam fillings are very popular, especially for the repair of molars. These metal dental fillings are extremely durable and long-lasting. Many patients find that their amalgam fillings last as long as 10 to 15 years (especially if the tooth is properly cared for).
Composite (Plastic) Fillings
Another very popular material option is composite. These fillings are made from glass and plastic. The main advantage of composite fillings is their appearance. Composite fillings look similar to natural teeth—allowing the patient to smile with confidence. This makes them a good choice for front teeth. Composite fillings aren’t as durable, and often only last around 6 to 8 years. They can also be stained by tobacco, coffee and tea.
Much like amalgam fillings, gold fillings are both very noticeable and extremely durable. Gold fillings may last as long as 20 years. It’s important to note that gold is also among the most expensive materials.
Speak with your dentist about which materials are right for your preferences and your budget.