To treat a cavity, dentists will first remove the tooth’s decayed portion and “fill” the area where the decayed material once existed. Tooth fillings are also used to repair teeth that have been worn down from misuse, such as the grinding of your teeth or nail biting.
What to Expect
Filling the tooth can last for around an hour. This gives the dentist ample time to have X-rays taken when needed, discuss the procedure, and complete the process. Tooth filling will require numbing the gums to minimize pain and discomfort.
The tooth decay will be drilled out and replaced with the filling. The process only takes a few minutes. After the procedure, the mouth can stay numb for a few hours. The most widespread use of dental filling is to fill the cavity in the mouth.
However, there are also instances when tooth fillings are used to repair teeth damage that’s caused by teeth grinding (also known as bruxism). Tooth filling is also used to replace part of a broken tooth.
Below are some of the most prevalent problems that can occur with dental problems and how they can be managed:
- Tenderness after the procedure. After the tooth filling, some patients experience tenderness and sensitivity in the affected area. The pain can last for a couple of weeks after the procedure. If the pain lasts for an extended period, visiting your dentist right away is recommended.
- Pain when biting. Some patients experience pain when they bite down food. This can often be attributed to the filling interfering with the bite. In similar cases, patients have to return to the dentist’s office so the fillings can be reshaped.
- Pain when the restorations touch. There are also instances when patients experience a sharp pain when the new fillings touch another restoration. This can also be the result of various metal surfaces interacting. For instance, the gold crown can interact with the silver amalgam. Typically, the pain will go away on its own and will only last for a short time.
- Tooth pain. If the tooth decay is deeper than expected, the dental filling might not be enough to repair the tooth. Similar cases may often require root canal treatment.
- Referred pain. There are patients that experience pain in teeth that surrounds the one that was filled. This often occurs when the tooth that’s filled passes the pain signals to the surrounding teeth. While the sensation can feel strange, it is often not a cause of worry. Often, the pain will disappear on its own.
- Filling deterioration. Regular wear and tear from clenching, chewing, and grinding might also cause tooth fillings to crack, chip, or break. If the seal between the enamel and the fillings break down, bacteria and food particles might find their way under the fillings and cause decay. In some instances, the filling can also fall out completely and will require replacement.
Aftercare for Tooth Fillings
To look after your tooth fillings, you need to adhere to good oral hygiene practices such as:
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings
- Brush using fluoride-containing toothpaste
- Flossing at least twice daily
If a tooth filling is cracked or leaking, an X-ray may be recommended to assess the situation. Leaking occurs when the sides of the filling do not fit tightly against the tooth. When a leak occurs, saliva and debris can seep down between the tooth and the filling and cause decay.
If the tooth is extremely sensitive, or there’s a crack in the filling, or if the filling is missing, it is recommended that you visit your dentist right away.