Do you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another dental cavity filling? Dentists like Dr. Frank Henrich of Tulsa, OK 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 plaque are allowed to remain in contact on your teeth for extended periods of time because of improper brushing and flossing or because the food is sticky, then a collection of bacteria accumulates to feed on this plaque. These bacteria release digestive acids which dissolve the plaque and keep right on going right down into your enamel. The enamel — the top layer of the tooth — gradually becomes discolored as it decays. If allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually chip or break away and become what we call a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel that exposes sensitive nerves inside and makes your whole tooth more vulnerable to infection
What Does Decay Feel Like?
It can begin with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or temporary 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 to 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 soft, tooth-colored material that hardens when cured with a UV light, chemically bonding to your teeth.
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.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Contrary to popular belief, fillings do not last forever. A filling usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but requires regular dental examinations to make sure 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.