Does it seem like every time you see your dentist, you’re being told you need another filling? Dental offices like Smile Viera of Viera, FL want you to know the warning signs that can clue you in that you may need a filling, what to expect when you get a filling and how to take care of them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and saliva form plaque, and it’s allowed to remain in on your teeth for awhile, maybe due to infrequent brushing and flossing, then a collection of bacteria accumulate to feed on the plaque. These bacteria release acids which eat the particles on your teeth and then just keep on eating, dissolving your tooth enamel. Your enamel — the usually-hard top layer of your tooth — begins to gradually weaken and becomes discolored. If this process is allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually collapse, leaving a hole in your enamel — a “cavity”.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that you often find with your tongue
- 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? It usually begins with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or passing sensitivity when eating sweet foods. It then progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity when eating certain foods and constant pain that can last for hours and may need medication to stop.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
A filling stops the cavity in its’ tracks by filling the hole with a substitute for the broken enamel. Filling materials were once primarily 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 your dentist applies it but hardens up 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
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
You should be able to eat on your filled tooth immediately after the procedure, when it has been done with composite resin. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you will usually be unable to see where the filing was done. You may still have some mild to moderate sensitivity in your tooth but it should go away 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.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Decay or cavities can be prevented by having 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 completed, fillings can be easily maintained by a proper oral hygiene routine at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Contrary to what many believe, fillings do not last forever. A filling will usually last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but it will need at least regular annual examinations for your dentist to check that it’s holding up well. If you notice any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. These may be signs that your filling is breaking down and needs to be replaced.
If you are in the Viera, FL area and would like a consultation with one of our skilled and professional dentists about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (321) 614-3833 or schedule online today!