Tooth fillings are used to fill a cavity or other dental trauma such as a chipped tooth. The earlier cavities are filled and prevented from getting bigger over time, the less likely you will encounter oral issues. That’s why regular check-ups are important.
If a cavity or chipped tooth is left untreated, it can lead problems such as bad breath, infection, toothache and even tooth loss.
In case you have any concerns about tooth fillings, please feel free to give us a call.
When Do You Need Tooth Fillings?
- Tooth decay – Fillings is most commonly caused by tooth decay. After consuming food or drink, bacteria will feed on any sugar or starches that remains on your teeth and plaque will develop. The acids developed from the bacterial activity will disintegrate your tooth enamel, creating tiny holes which will get bigger over time.
- Enamel erosion – Enamel erosion can be caused by various factors such as consuming acidic drinks such as soft drinks and fruit juice, consuming foods high in sugar and starches and medical conditions such as acid reflux or dry mouth.
- Chipped Tooth – A broken or chipped tooth might occur due to dental trauma or when you bite into something hard. This can cause erosion if the inner parts of the tooth are exposed and left untreated over time.
- Abrasion and attrition – This occur when teeth get eroded. It could be due to using too much force during brushing or bruxism (grinding of teeth).
What are the Types of Tooth Fillings?
- Amalgam – These are silver-coloured fillings made from a combination of metals including silver, tin and copper. Amalgam is very durable and wear-resistant, so it’s ideal for fillings in your back teeth. Amalgam fillings can last for a few decades as long as there is proper oral care.
- Composite – Composite filling are not obvious and look natural since it is white in colour and can be matched closely to your teeth colour.
- Inlays and overlays – Your dentist may suggest an inlay or overlay is tooth filling is not possible in your case. Inlay or overlay are normally employed for teeth of larger chewing surfaces like the molar teeth. Inlays fit into the central part of the tooth while overlays cover the full biting surface of the tooth. These are normally made from metal, composite or porcelain.
Is Tooth Filling Painful?
One of the common worries for a filling procedure is how painful it will be. With the anaesthetic techniques nowadays, you can rest assure that the area around the tooth will be completely numb during the filling process.
The administering of anaesthetic can be slightly painful – normally a stinging sensation for just a few seconds. Numbing gel may be applied to the gum before the injection to reduce the pain.
In some cases, it is possible to conduct small cavity fillings without an anaesthetic injection if the decay is only on the surface of the tooth.
If you experience pain or discomfort after a filling, your dentist may need to check if the filling may have cracked or moved out of place hence exposing the nerves underneath. Or if you experience pain when you bite, the filling may have been placed too high and your dentist will need to polish it down a bit more.
Tooth Fillings Procedure
During a dental checkup, your dentist will check for signs of decay and advise you if you have any teeth that need fillings or other treatment. An x-ray might be required at times.
In most cases, the dentist will inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. Numbing gel may be applied on the gum beforehand to reduce pain from the injection itself.
3) Removing Decay
After the anaesthetic has taken effect, the dentist will remove any parts of the tooth damaged from decay. This is done using a high-speed dentist’s drill, air abrasion tool, or laser.
The dentist will fill the cavity with an amalgam or composite filling and then check that your bite still feels right when you put your teeth together.
5) Shaping & Polishing
Once the dental filling is in place and the material has hardened, it’s time to refine the shape and polish it. The dentist will try match it to the original tooth as much as possible.
Tooth Fillings Aftercare
Normally, there is no need for a follow-up dental visit after a filling procedure. Your dentist will advise you on things to take note such as when you can eat and drink again, any temporary diet restriction, and which painkillers to take if you have any discomfort after your filling.
Before the anaesthetic wears off, be careful while talking or eating to avoid biting on your cheek.
After that, all you need to do is take good care of your teeth by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.
However, you should contact your dentist if you notice any of the following in the days after a filling:
- There is a sharp edge on the tooth
- Your bite is uncomfortable and you can feel that the filing is getting in the way
- There is a visible crack in the filling material
- The filling has come loose
- You’re experiencing severe pain
- Your tooth remains sensitive 2-3 weeks after the procedure
Prevent Further Tooth Decay
After a filling, your dentist should advise you on how to maintain better oral hygiene and reduce the chances of requiring more fillings or other dental treatments in the future. This will include flossing daily and brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
Your diet can also affect the condition of your teeth. Reducing sugar intake in your diet, for example, can make a huge difference in both your oral and general health.