Does it seem like you’re told you need another filling every time you go to the dentist? But why? And what do these fillings actually do for you? Dentists like Dr. John C. Cranham of Chesapeake, VA 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 saliva combine to form sticky plaque on your teeth and that plaque is not properly removed due irregular brushing and flossing, then bacteria will begin accumulating to feed on the buildup. However, the digestive acids released by these bacteria won’t just stop with plaque, they eventually move on to your healthy tooth enamel underneath. This process is called tooth decay and, if allowed to continue, it will eventually weaken your enamel and open a hole. This hole is known as a cavity and it can create nerve sensitivity and even allow infection to spread inside your tooth.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often finds
- Holes where food gets stuck
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to schedule an appointment to see your dentist.
What Does Decay Feel Like?
Cavities are often first felt as a mild or transient sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or when eating sweet foods. It then becomes prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and discomfort when biting or chewing. Eventually, if left untreated, you may experience an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and requires medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling were once made of silver and later out of cement like glass ionomer. In modern dentistry, the most widely used material for fillings is plastic composite, a tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light, causing it to chemically bond 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 made with composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no real restrictions. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you should be unable to see where the filing was done. There may be some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should subside within 48 hours though. It may also take you some time and wear to adjust to the feeling of it if the filling is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Your teeth can be shielded from decay by preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food from becoming stuck in them. Another option is applying a fluoride treatment to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Of course, faithfully brushing and flossing daily and keeping regular dental appointments are the most basic but important way to prevent tooth decay.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Although many people think otherwise, fillings do not last forever. In fact, they normally only last anywhere from 3-7 years on average. However, you should have regular annual examinations by your dentist to make sure they are holding up well. If you notice any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately as this could indicate the need for a replacement filling.
If you are in the Chesapeake, VA area and would like a consultation with Dr. Cranham about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call 757.656.4109 or schedule online today!