Does it seem like you’re being told you need another filling every time you’re in the dentist’s chair? Dentists like Dr. John C. Cranham of Chesapeake VA wants 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 stick to your teeth for extended periods of time due to neglecting oral hygiene, improper brushing or just because the food in question is especially sticky, then a collection of bacteria accumulate. These bacteria release acids which begin to dissolve your tooth enamel. As tooth decay sets in, your enamel begins to gradually become discolored based on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If this decay is allowed to continue, the afflicted portion of the tooth will eventually chip away and become what we call a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish/black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often finds its way into
- Holes where food frequently 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?
It can begin with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or transient discomfort when eating sweet food- this is where the expression “sweet tooth” actually comes from. It usually progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if it continues to go untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or outright pain when eating certain foods. This pain may last for several hours and need 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 tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens while chemically bonding to your teeth when cured with a UV light.
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
- The amount covered by the patient’s insurance plan
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
A permanent filling when completed with plastic composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards without dietary restrictions. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you shouldn’t even be able 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 to the feeling of the filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
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 to the enamel, protecting the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Once a filling is completed, it can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Contrary to popular belief, fillings do not last forever, even ones made of traditional silver. A filling can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but should be examined regularly by a dentist to ensure it’s holding up well. If you notice any signs of discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule a visit with your area dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.
Fillings in Chesapeake, VA
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!