Fillings are one of the most commonly performed dental procedures, and sometimes it feels like every time we go to the dentist, we’re told we need another one. But why do we need them? What causes the cavities in the first place and how do we prevent them? Learn more about fillings with Davidsonville, MD dental practice Wooddell & Passaro Restorative & Esthetic Dentistry.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
Fillings are the treatment for cavities, which are small holes in the tooth enamel that must be repaired to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Cavities are caused by oral bacteria that build up on the teeth, and these bacteria release acids that break down tooth enamel. The area becomes discolored and eventually forms a small hole that we call a “cavity,” and dentists use fillings to repair the teeth and prevent further decay.
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?
At first, you may not even know you have a cavity. Some patients don’t know until they see their dentist for their regular cleaning and are told about it! However, many patients report feeling mild sensitivity to hot or cold liquids, or a tingling sensation when eating sweets. You may notice slight pain when biting or chewing or increased sensitivity to temperature. In severe cases, the pain persists and requires medication to be relieved.
What Are Fillings Made From?
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.
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
Modern fillings done with plastic composite and a UV light do not carry any restrictions. You can eat and drink immediately afterwards, although there may be some residual sensitivity in the treated tooth which should subside within 48 hours. Your dentist will adjust the filling to be at the level of your bite so you won’t be able to feel where the filling is.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Decay or cavities can be prevented by preventive 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 done, fillings can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Fillings last about 10 years, but not all patients have fillings that need repairs. Some can last for the rest of your life. The best way to make sure your filling is intact is to keep your regular dental cleaning appointments, including annual X-rays to ensure there is no underlying decay. If there are any signs of decay such as discoloration or chipping, see your dentist for a replacement filling.
If you are in the Davidsonville MD area and would like a consultation with our office about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (410) 343-7075 or schedule online today!