A toothache, sensitivity, or discoloration in your teeth could be a sign that you have a cavity that needs to be filled. But more often than not, there are no symptoms, rather decay has shown up in a radiograph. If the tooth isn’t filled there is a risk the tooth will die. Dental fillings are a common dental procedure that many people undergo to restore the health and function of their teeth.
However, you may have some questions or concerns about what a dental filling is, why you need it, how it is done, and how to take care of it. We will answer all these questions and more, so you can have a better understanding of dental fillings and how they can improve your oral health and smile.
A dental filling, also known as a tooth filling or cavity filling, is a dental restoration used to repair a tooth damaged by decay or trauma. The most common type of filling is made from a mixture of metals called amalgam, which includes mercury along with other materials such as silver, tin, copper, and zinc. However, due to concerns about the potential health risks associated with mercury exposure, alternative options like composite resin (white fillings), ceramic, and glass ionomer have become increasingly popular.
You may need a dental filling if you have a cavity, which is a hole in the tooth caused by bacteria that feed on sugar and produce acid. The acid erodes the enamel, which is the hard outer layer of the tooth and exposes the dentin, which is the softer inner layer. This can cause pain, sensitivity, and infection. If left untreated, cavities can lead to more serious problems like abscesses, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
1- Diagnosis: Your dentist will first examine your tooth and may take X-rays to assess the extent of the damage.
2- Numbing: Local anesthesia is administered to ensure you are comfortable during the procedure.
3- Removing Decay: The decayed portion of the tooth is removed using specialized instruments.
4- Filling Placement: The chosen filling material is placed in the prepared cavity and shaped to match the natural contours of the tooth.
5- Curing (for Composite Fillings): If composite resin is used, it’s hardened using a curing light.
6- Final Adjustments: The dentist will make final adjustments to ensure a proper bite and function.
The lifespan of a filling depends on various factors, such as the size, location, and type of filling; your diet or your oral hygiene habits; and whether you grind or clench your teeth.
On average, metal fillings can last for 10 to 15 years, composite resin fillings for 5 to 7 years, ceramic fillings for 15 years or more, and glass ionomer fillings for 3 to 5 years.
After getting a dental filling, you can generally resume normal eating habits once the anesthesia wears off. However, avoid chewing gum or hard candies until the filling has fully set, typically within 24 hours. Also, try to minimize crunchy or sticky foods that might pull or push the filling out of place during the initial healing period.
White fillings (composite resin), metal fillings (amalgam), and tooth-colored fillings (ceramic or glass ionomer) are different types of dental fillings. Each type has its advantages and considerations, and your dentist can help you choose the most suitable one for your specific needs.
Dental fillings may need replacing if they become damaged, worn out, or infected over time. Some signs that your dental filling may need replacing are
When seeking cavity fillings, choosing the right dentist is crucial for a successful outcome. At H. Williams & Associates Dental Practice, we are dedicated to providing top-tier dental services, including dental fillings, tailored to your individual needs. Our team of qualified and friendly dentists uses the latest technology and techniques to ensure the longevity and functionality of your dental fillings, all at an affordable dental filling cost. We also offer emergency dental filling services for immediate relief. Schedule an appointment today.