Does it seem to you like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another filling? Why? What do these fillings actually do for you? Dentists like Dr. Frederick Marra of Capital Region Complete Dental Care & Implants of Cohoes, NY 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 form plaque, a clear, sticky substance that coats your teeth, bacteria living in our mouths begin to feed on this plaque. If plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth for extended periods of time because of irregular brushing and flossing or because the food is sticky, eventually the bacteria will eat through the plaque and begin dissolving your enamel. Your enamel — the hard outer layer of your tooth — begins to discolor gradually depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually break or chip away and become what dentists call a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your 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 with your dentist.
What does decay feel like?
Tooth decay can usually be detected first as a mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or transient sensitivity when eating sweet food. It often progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold food, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if not treated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and constant pain that may last for hours and requires medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling materials were once usually silver and were later made out of cement like glass ionomer. In the world of modern dentistry, the most widely used filling substance is plastic composite, a tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light while chemically bonding to your tooth.
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?
Once completed a composite filling allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no restrictions. At this point, your tooth is as good as new and you should be unable to really tell where the filing was done. You may experience mild to moderate sensitivity in the tooth that has been filled but this should subside within 48 hours. You may need a little time and wear to adjust to the feel of your filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite. Once completed, fillings can be maintained by practicing proper oral hygiene at home, including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Your teeth can be protected from decay by preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth. Another option is applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Of course, daily brushing and flossing and regular dental appointments are the most basic but important way to prevent tooth decay.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Although fillings are durable they do not last forever. A filling usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but needs regular annual examinations to make sure it is aging well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, call to schedule with Dr. Marra or your area dentist immediately. These signs indicate breakdown of enamel and the need for replacement of the filling.
If you are in the Cohoes, NY area and would like a consultation with Dr. Marra about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (518) 650-1930 or schedule online today!