Does it seem to you like every time you go to the dentist, you find out you need yet another filling? Why? What do these fillings actually do to help you? Dentists like Dr. Ray Becker of Howard County Smiles in Columbia, MD 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 after you have them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and saliva combine to form sticky plaque on your teeth and this substance is not properly removed due irregular brushing and flossing habits, then bacteria will begin accumulating in your mouth to feed on this buildup. However, the digestive acids that these bacteria release don’t just stop with plaque that is on your teeth, they eventually move on to your healthy tooth enamel beneath it. This process is known as tooth decay and, if allowed to continue, it will eventually weaken your enamel and even cause a hole in it it — a cavity. Cavities make your teeth vulnerable to nerve sensitivity and even infection.
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 Dr. Becker or your local area dentist.
What Does Decay Feel Like?
Cavities are often first detected by a mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or to sweet foods. If not treated then, the tooth decay usually progresses next to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks, and discomfort when biting or chewing. Eventually, tooth decay will cause you to feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity when eating certain foods which may even lead to constant pain that lasts for hours and must be relieved using medication.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
The standard material used for fillings was once almost exclusively silver and later cements like glass ionomer. In modern dentistry, the most widely used filling substance is tooth-colored plastic composite. This material is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light while chemically bonding to your tooth to become as hard as natural enamel.
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, you should be able to eat with a composite filling immediately afterwards with no restrictions. Thanks to your filling, your tooth is now as good as new and you will most likely be unable to really tell where the filling was placed. You may experience mild to moderate sensitivity in the newly filled tooth but this should subside within 48 hours. You may need to use the filled tooth for a time to adjust to the feel of it if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite. Once completed, fillings can be maintained by maintaining proper oral hygiene at home, including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
Preventing Tooth Decay
You can receive extra protection from cavities through dental treatments such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food from becoming stuck in teeth or having fluoride solution applied to attract more calcium to the enamel to strengthen it. However, to prevent tooth decay that causes the need for fillings, you really only need to brush twice daily, floss daily, use mouthwash to kill cavity-causing bacteria and see Dr. Becker or your area dentist regularly.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Although fillings are very strong they do not last forever. A filling can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but should be examined by a dentist at least annually to make sure it is aging well. If you observe any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, call to schedule with Dr. Becker or your area dentist immediately. These could be indications of the enamel breaking down around the filling which will require a new filling.
Dental Care in Howard County, MD
If you are in the Columbia, MD area and would like a consultation with Dr. Becker at Howard County Smiles about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (410) 415-9013 or schedule online today!