Teeth fillings are one of the most common dental procedures. If you have a cavity or think you may have a cavity, you probably have a lot of questions about what the dentist will do about it. In this blog post, we hope to shine some light on what you can expect, so you will be as comfortable as possible when your dental appointment comes up.
Why do I need dental fillings?
If you have a dental cavity, it is because your tooth has begun to decay. If the cavity is bad enough, you have probably already started to experience pain or sensitivity in the tooth. You may think that you can simply deal with the pain. Perhaps you are afraid of the dentist or are unsure whether it is worth the financial outlay to get your tooth fixed. It is very important that you understand that relieving pain is not the only reason to have a cavity filled.
Because a cavity is caused by tooth decay, the state of the tooth will continue to degrade absent intervention. If the cavity is allowed to get too large, a root canal may be necessary. It is possible, in extreme cases, that even a root canal will not be enough and the tooth will need to be removed. Filling the cavity cleans and disinfects the tooth. It removes any damage and seals the tooth from further bacteria and decay. This is part of the reason dental fillings are so crucial to a healthy mouth.
Protecting the cavity from bacteria is another good reason to have your cavity filled. Bacteria in the tooth can attack the living cells and cause pain. In severe cases, the tooth can be abscessed. An abscessed tooth will also require more severe dental intervention than a simple cavity.
Getting your cavities filled as soon as your or your dental professional notice them is important to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to be done later.
Pain management for teeth fillings
As you wait for your dental appointment, there are some steps you can take to minimize the pain from your cavity. Medications that you can use include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and clove oil. Clove oil, also known as Eugenol, should be available in the dental section of your local pharmacy.
While you wait for your prescription, you should also make some lifestyle changes to help minimize the pain from the cavity. In many cases, extreme hot or cold will exacerbate tooth pain. Pay attention to your tooth pain as you eat foods that are very hot or very cold and avoid the ones that cause you pain.
Foods with extreme temperatures will let you know when they are hurting your tooth. There are other, more silent, dangers to your tooth that could worsen the pain. While your tooth is in a vulnerable state from the cavity, avoid eating foods that are very sugary or very acidic.
It is also extra important to keep your mouth clean as you await your appointment. Do not be afraid to brush your teeth, or to floss. These activities will not hurt the tooth and will help keep its conditioning from worsening and increasing your pain.
Preparation for tooth fillings
Before a tooth can be filled, all of the decay must be removed. This is done with a dental drill. To ensure that you do not feel any pain from the drilling, your tooth will be numbed. The tooth is numbed with an injection of anesthetic, though a gel anesthetic may be applied first to reduce the pain from the injection.
Once the decay has been removed, the dentist will finish the preparation for your dental fillings by thoroughly cleaning the area to ensure a good bond. The tooth will then be ready to receive the filling material.
Types of dental fillings
There are two mains types of filling material. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Those types are silver amalgam and composite resin.
Silver amalgam is a blend of mercury with silver, tin, and copper. This type of dental filling has been around since the late 1800s, and as such it has a long history of proven success. Amalgam fillings are affordable and long-lasting. The main drawback to silver amalgam fillings is that they are very noticeable. They do not blend in with the surrounding tooth at all.
The problem of highly visible and unattractive fillings was solved with composite resin. Resin composite is the same color as the tooth and is unnoticeable. This makes resin composite a particularly attractive option for the highly visible teeth near the front of the mouth. Resin also has the advantage of bonding really well to the tooth’s surface. Composite fillings have their downside as well. They do not last as long as amalgam fillings. So for teeth that are less visible, amalgam may be the better option.
Cost of dental fillings
There are many factors that go into determining the cost of a dental filling. As a rough estimate, amalgam fillings for one or two surfaces cost an average of $50-$150 compared to $90-250 for composite resin fillings. Keep in mind that what your dental insurance covers may vary. Most insurers consider composite resin to be a cosmetic upgrade and pay less for those. In addition to the filling appointment itself, you’ll need to add in the cost of the initial appointment and the x-rays.
Care after fillings
It will take a few hours for the anesthetic to wear off after your teeth have been filled. Be careful when chewing while your mouth is still numb. It is very easy to accidentally bite yourself and not realize it. If you chew while the anesthetic is still active, try to chew on a part of your mouth that was not worked on and is not numb.
Your teeth will also be sensitive to extreme temperature after the dental fillings. This sensitivity can last up to a few weeks. In some cases, it may last even longer. As long as their condition continues to improve, this is not something that you should worry about. The area around the injection site might also be tender for a few days.
Silver amalgam fillings take up to 24 hours to set, so you should avoid eating hard foods during that period. If possible, try to do most of your chewing on the opposite side of your mouth. Composite resins set much quicker, so this restriction will not apply with those.
At Cherrywood Dental Associates, we pride ourselves on our people skills and our commitment to your oral health. We are aware that many people are nervous about dental visits, and will do our best to put you at ease so that you are comfortable getting your cavities repaired promptly. Please contact us for an appointment if you are experiencing tooth pain or suspect you have a cavity.
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Dr. Barzgar is an excellent dentist
Dr. Barzgar was very professional and gentle. When I first came to his office to see Dr. Barzgar I had a major trust issue between dentist and patient from my past experiences. Dr. Barzgar is an excellent dentist, whose priority is making sure his...