Does it seem like the dentist is telling you that you need another dental filling every time you go see them? Dentists like the knowledgeable professionals at Levesque Dentistry of Nashua, NH, want you to know the warning signs 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 sticky plaque on your teeth and it is not properly removed due to irregular brushing and flossing, then bacteria will begin accumulating to feed on this buildup. However, the digestive acids that these bacteria release don’t just stop with plaque, they eventually move on to your healthy tooth enamel within.
This process is called tooth decay, and if allowed to continue, it will weaken and eventually eat a hole in your tooth’s enamel. This hole is known as a cavity and it opens up your tooth to nerve sensitivity and even infection.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish-black areas on your front teeth.
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often finds.
- Holes where food can become stuck.
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
What does decay feel like?
Cavities can often first be detected due to a mild or transient sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or when eating sweet foods. It usually then progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and discomfort when biting or chewing. Eventually, if allowed to go untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam but were later made of cements like glass ionomer. These days, the most widely used substance is plastic composite, a kind of soft, tooth-colored material that hardens while chemically bonding to your teeth when cured with a UV light.
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?
A permanent filling done with a composite resin should be safe to bite and chew with almost immediately afterwards with no concerns. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you shouldn’t even be able to tell where the filing was done. There may be a feeling of mild to moderate sensitivity in the recently filled tooth, which should subside within the first 48 hours. You may need more time to adjust to the feel of the filling, especially if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Cavities can be prevented through dental treatments such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food from becoming stuck in teeth or fluoride application to attract more calcium to the enamel to strengthen it. However, fillings really only need the same routine home oral hygiene that you should already be giving your teeth: Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and using mouthwash to kill cavity-causing bacteria.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Despite what many people think, fillings do not last forever. In fact, they usually only last anywhere from 3-7 years on average. However, you should have regular annual examinations to make sure they are holding up well. If you notice any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately, as this could indicate the need for a filling.
If you are in the Nashua, NH, area and would like a consultation with Levesque Dentistry about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (603) 547-9203 or schedule online today!