Do you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Donald Reid of Dental Artistry in Truckee, CA 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?
Sometimes, when we don’t brush or floss properly, food particles and plaque remain on your teeth for extended periods of time and a collection of bacteria can accumulate. These bacteria produce acids when they feed which begin to dissolve your tooth enamel. This enamel — the hard outermost layer of your tooth — begins to gradually become discolored and weakens. If allowed to progress, that portion of the tooth will eventually chip away and become a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or grayish or black areas on your teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often finds
- Holes where food gets stuck
If you notice you have any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
What does decay feel like? It often starts off with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or temporary sensitivity when eating sweet food. Eventually, it tends to progress to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if allowed to remain untreated, you may feel an “electric” sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and experience pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling materials were once almost always silver amalgam and later were finished with cements like glass ionomer. In modern days, the most widely used substance is plastic composite — a tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light while also chemically bonding to your tooth.
How Much Will It Cost?
A fillings’ cost 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 for the dentist to work with.
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
When finished with composite resin, you should be able 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 inserted. You may experience some mild to moderate sensitivity in the area where the tooth was filled. This should subside within 48 hours although it may take some time and use to adjust if the filling is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay and cavities that stem from it can be prevented by treatments 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. Fillings that have been completed can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including twice-daily brushing, regularly using mouthwash and flossing daily.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Many people believe that fillings last forever once done but this is, sadly, not true. A filling usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but will need regular annual examinations to check that it is holding up under regular use. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. These signs indicate a breakdown of the filling and indicate the need for replacement as soon as possible.
If you are in the Truckee, CA area and would like a consultation with Dr. Reid about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (530) 206-0392 or schedule online today!