Cavity Fillings: What to Expect, Types & Potential Problems
Dental fillings are a common and effective way to treat cavities and restore damaged teeth. Cavities are caused by tooth decay, a bacterial infection that can eat away at the enamel and dentin of the tooth. Cavities can lead to tooth sensitivity, pain, and even loss if left untreated. This article will discuss what to expect during a dental filling procedure, the different types of dental fillings, and potential problems that can arise.
What to Expect During a Dental Filling Procedure
A dental filling procedure typically involves the following steps:
Numbing the area
The dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth being filled. This will help minimize any discomfort during the procedure.
Removing the decay
The dentist will use a drill or laser to remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Once the decay has been removed, the dentist will prepare the tooth for the filling by cleaning the area and shaping it to accommodate the filling material.
Placing the filling
The dentist will place the filling material into the prepared cavity and shape it to match the natural contours of the tooth. The filling material will be hardened using a particular light or chemical process.
Polishing the filling
Once the filling has been hardened, the dentist will polish it to smooth out any rough edges and ensure a comfortable fit with the opposing teeth.
The entire procedure typically takes less than an hour to complete, depending on the size and location of the cavity.
Types of Dental Fillings
There are several different dental fillings, each with advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of dental fillings include:
Amalgam fillings are made of silver, tin, copper, and mercury. They are solid and durable and can last for many years. However, they are more noticeable than other fillings and may not be the best discreet solution.
Composite fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and glass. They are tooth-colored and blend in with natural teeth, making them a good choice for visible teeth. They are not as solid and durable as amalgam fillings, but will last for a few years before wearing out
Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain or other materials that can match the color of the natural teeth. This type of filling is esthetically pleasing and is a durable solution. However, it’s more expensive than other types of fillings.
Gold fillings are made of gold, copper, and other metals. They are the most solid and durable option and can last for up to 30 years. However, they are the most expensive type of filling and may not offer the best natural look.
Potential Problems with Dental Fillings
While dental fillings are generally safe and effective, some potential problems can arise. These include:
Some people may experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures after dental filling. This is usually temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications or desensitizing toothpaste.
Wear and tear
Dental fillings can wear down over time, especially if subjected to pressure from chewing or grinding. This can lead to cracks or chips in the filling, which may need to be replaced.
Decay around the filling.
If the filling becomes loose or develops a crack, bacteria can enter the gap between the filling and the tooth and cause decay. This can lead to further damage to the tooth and may require additional treatment.
Some people may be allergic to the materials used in dental fillings, such as mercury in amalgam fillings. If you have a known allergy to any materials used in dental fillings, discuss this with your dentist before undergoing the procedure.
How can I prevent cavities and the need for dental fillings?
The best way to prevent cavities and the need for dental fillings is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. You can also reduce your risk of cavities by limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks and using fluoride dental products.
Dental fillings are a common and effective way to treat cavities and restore damaged teeth. During the procedure, the dentist will numb the area, remove the decay, place the filling material, and polish the filling to ensure a comfortable fit. There are several different dental fillings, each with advantages and disadvantages. While dental fillings are generally safe and effective, some potential problems can arise, such as sensitivity, wear and tear, decay around the filling, and allergic reactions. If you are experiencing tooth pain or suspect that you may have a cavity, it is essential to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the tooth.