A tooth filling, otherwise called as restoration is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape.
What are the different types of filling materials available?
- Previously gold and silver amalgam restorations were used commonly. These days they are replaced by tooth colored materials such as:
- Glass-ionomer cement
How to choose which filling material will be the best for the tooth?
It will depend on two factors such as:
- The depth of the cavity
- Financial situation of the patient
When do you need to get a tooth filling done?
When you go for a routine dental check-up, your dentist will look for the following signs:
- Black discoloration, similar to stains on the tooth surface
- Pits or holes present on the tooth surface
- Sensitivity to hot and cold water
- Fracture of the tooth
- Wearing of the enamel
- Pain on any particular tooth
If any of the above symptoms are present, what will the dentist do next?
Depending on the symptoms present the following steps will be taken:
- X-rays of the teeth will be taken to check the spread of decay.
- Anesthesia will be given if there is too much sensitivity.
- The decayed part of the tooth will be removed and cleaned using the drilling machine.
- Best possible restorative material will be chosen by the dentist depending on the situation.
- Sometimes, if the filling is too deep, a temporary filling will be placed and you will be recalled after 3 weeks. After complete healing happens and if there are no further symptoms, permanent filling can be done.
What care should I take after the filling is done?
Ideally, the materials are so advanced these days that minimal care is needed afterwards.
- Avoid drinking or eating too cold or too hot food for the next 24 hours.
- Avoid biting hard food on the side where the filling was done.
- You will have to come after a week for the final polishing, if composite restoration is done.
I am having sensitivity after the filling of the tooth was done. Is it normal?
Yes, it is. Normally this sensitivity will last up to 2-3 weeks. However, if it does not subside you need to visit your dentist.
I am having severe pain after the filling. What could be the reason?
Pain may vary from being mild to severe, and these could be the reasons:
- High points or some extra filling material is present on the tooth surface. So as you bite, you may experience discomfort. This can be resolved easily by removing those high points by using the drilling machine.
- When a deep cavity is filled, it is normal to experience discomfort for a week since the filling material will be much closer to the nerves of the tooth.
- If the pain is severe, the cavity may have already approached the pulp or the nerve of the tooth, and a root canal treatment may be needed after looking at the x-rays.
My previous filling has come off. What should I do?
Visit your dentist immediately to get it re-filled. Otherwise, as the food gets stuck the bacteria will get into the normal part and destroy the remaining tooth structure.
How long will my tooth filling last?
This will depend on the type of filling material used and the tooth involved. Ideally a well maintained restoration can last up to 10-12 years.
What will happen if I do not get the filling done?
The decay will spread and the following can be expected:
- Once the decay reaches the pulp or the nerve of the tooth, root canal treatment is advised.
- If it is neglected for a long time, it can lead to abscess formation or infection for which root canal treatment or extraction will be the only option.
Dr. Anitha Alageshan advices to get your teeth checked once in 6 months in order to prevent decay from ever happening! This can be accomplished by routine Fluoride application. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
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