Do you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need to have another filling done? It’s very common as cavities are the most diagnosed illness in the world after the common cold and fillings are the simplest way to treat them.
Dentists like Dr. Elizabeth Duling of Owens Cross Roads, AL want you to know the warning signs that can tell you that you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling and how to care for them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and saliva combine to form a sticky, clear layer of plaque on your teeth, bacteria that naturally live in your mouth will come to feed on it. If this plaque and the bacteria that follows it are allowed to remain in contact with your teeth for extended periods of time, the bacteria can begin to eat your tooth enamel as well. If allowed to continue, this tooth decay will eventually cause a portion of the tooth to break away, forming what we call a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often goes into
- Holes where food gets stuck
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
What Does Decay Feel Like?
It can begin with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or transient sensitivity when eating sweet food. It usually progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if it continues untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam and later were done with cements like glass ionomer. But now the most widely used substance is plastic composite, a kind of tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens while chemically bonding to your teeth when cured with a UV light.
How Much Will It Cost?
Costs of fillings can vary widely on:
- The material being used by the dentist
- Skill and experience of the dentist
- The size of the filling
- Amount of remaining tooth structure
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
A permanent filling when done with composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no precautions. Your tooth is as good as new and you should be unable to see where the filing was done. You may feel some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should subside within 48 hours. It may take some time and wear to adjust if the filling is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
To avoid needing a filling in the first place, dentists recommend brushing your teeth after every meal and flossing at least once daily. Using a mouthwash with fluoride is also suggested. However, if you already have a cavity forming, the decay can be halted by procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth or applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Once a filling is done, it can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Despite being made of very hard materials, fillings do not last forever. A filling usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but needs regular annual examinations to ensure it’s holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule to see your dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.
If you are in the Owens Cross Roads, AL area and would like a consultation with Dr. Duling about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call 256.202.4186 or schedule online today!