A great video to watch about getting fillings.
Many adults and children will have at least one tooth filling, as this dental treatment is used to repair teeth that have become damaged in some way. A tooth filling is a great way to preserve a damaged tooth and will restore strength as well as structure. They ensure the repaired tooth can be used without fear of the tooth cracking or breaking and more cosmetically oriented tooth colored fillings will restore appearance.
Reasons Why You Might Need a Filling
The most common reason for needing a filling is to restore a tooth that has a cavity caused by caries or tooth decay. Tooth fillings are also useful for repairing a cracked tooth or a broken tooth. For example, you are more likely to need a filling if you bite your nails or use your teeth to open packets, or if you clench or grind your teeth (a condition called bruxism).
Symptoms That You Might Need a Filling
Quite often a damaged tooth may cause no symptoms and the cavity will only be detected during your regular dental examination with our dentist here at Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry. However, if you notice you have issues with tooth sensitivity or that it feels as if an older filling has begun to crumble, then it’s time to schedule an appointment to see us. You should also book an appointment if you have a tooth that is cracked or chipped, even if it doesn’t bother you.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Have a Filling?
Any sort of damage to the hard outer covering of a tooth, called tooth enamel will increase your risk of an infection. This is because bacteria in your mouth will be able to get into the tooth, initially causing a cavity, but eventually infecting the central part of the tooth called the pulp. At this point you may experience toothache as the pulp contains the nerves of a tooth. An infected tooth will normally require root canal treatment.After root canal therapy is completed, the tooth usually needs to be restored with a dental crown as it will be significantly weaker and is likely to have lost quite a bit of its structure.
Fillings Help Protect Against Infections or Even Tooth Loss
Although root canal therapy is highly successful at saving badly infected teeth, it’s much more cost-effective to simply repair a small chip or crack in a tooth as soon as it happens. If you fail to have root canal therapy and leave the infection to progress, you are at risk of developing a dental abscess, a potentially serious infection that can lead to tooth loss and which can even affect your general health. If you lose the tooth, it will need to be replaced with a denture, bridge or dental implants. We would much rather repair a small cavity than have to talk to you about tooth extractions!
What Is the Procedure for Filling a Tooth?
When you come to see our dentist, they can closely examine your teeth to pick up any signs of cavities or damage. It’s likely they will take an x-ray as this can show the size and shape of any cavities, as well as any infection. This helps to plan treatment so it will be quicker and more comfortable for you.
Local Anesthetic Keeps You Comfortable
Gentle dental care will keep you comfortable during this treatment. There is absolutely no reason why a filling should feel painful and we use local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. The damaged portion of the tooth will need to be removed and the tooth carefully shaped to receive the filling. Once all the decay has been removed, the cavity is prepared for the filling.
Different Types of Filling Materials
Tooth Colored Composite Resin
The most common choice of filling material is tooth-colored composite resin. This is applied to the tooth in small increments and is cured with a special light at regular intervals. The light hardens the composite resin, creating a filling that will bond strongly to your natural tooth. Once all the filling material is in place, it can be shaped and gently polished. It’s not uncommon to use several different shades of resin to get an exact match with your natural tooth, creating a strong and virtually invisible tooth filling. Composite resin is suitable for small to medium sized cavities and fillings should last for several years.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
These tooth colored fillings are made from a combination of acrylic and glass and are bonded to the tooth. They tend to be used for front teeth as glass ionomer fillings are more fragile than composite resin and cannot withstand substantial biting and chewing forces. For this reason, you are more likely to have a glass ionomer filling if you have a cavity around the neck of a front tooth. Like composite resin, glass ionomer fillings are virtually invisible and are designed to slowly release fluoride, strengthening the tooth and preventing further decay.
Amalgam is a silver colored metal alloy that has been used for decades. However, these days is used less frequently due to the introduction of newer and more biocompatible materials like composite resin. Although amalgam is hard wearing and cost-effective, it tends to flex when in contact with hot or cold and when under pressure, eventually causing tiny micro fractures in teeth. Over time this can weaken the tooth. Composite resin doesn’t have these qualities and it bonds far more strongly to the actual tooth, sealing out bacteria more effectively. Additionally, amalgam is highly visible in the mouth.
Porcelain fillings tend to be used for larger cavities, often in the chewing surfaces of back teeth. These fillings are sometimes called indirect fillings as they are frequently made in a dental laboratory, requiring two visits to our dental office. After the cavity has been prepared, an impression is taken and sent to the lab so the filling can be made to our prescription. This normally takes two weeks so you will need a temporary tooth filling during this time. Porcelain is harder wearing and more resistant to staining compared to composite resin and will generally last for at least 10 years. However, a porcelain tooth filling will cost a bit more.
Gold fillings are another type of indirect filling often used to repair back teeth and you will need a dental impression after the tooth is prepared. This material can sometimes be a better choice than porcelain as it is softer and less likely to cause wear and tear on opposing teeth. The gold is polished to a high sheen so it looks attractive. Gold fillings should last for years before they need replacing.
If your filling needs more than one appointment then we will place a temporary filling to protect your tooth after it is has been prepared. We may also place a temporary filling after root canal treatment. This is to make sure all the infection has been removed and it gives the tooth a chance to settle down before it is permanently restored. If your temporary filling falls out, please get in touch with us to have it replaced, as it protects the tooth and prevents sensitivity and infection.
Is Amalgam Safe?
Over the past few years there has been concern about the use of amalgam because of the mercury content. Amalgam contains a number of different metals, forming a stable alloy and there is no solid proof its use can cause harm. If you do have older style amalgams, we can safely remove these as they begin to fail, replacing them with more a cosmetically oriented tooth filling. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend removing these fillings if they are still strong, but if they bother you then please talk to us next time you visit Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry.
How Long Will Fillings Last?
All dental restorations need renewing every so often and fillings are no exception. We do regularly review the condition of fillings to make sure they aren’t crumbling or leaky and they should last for several years before they need renewing.
Will My Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of Fillings?
Most dental plans cover the cost of amalgam fillings for back teeth and tooth colored fillings for front teeth. Depending on your provider, you might need to pay the difference if you wish to have a tooth-colored filling in a back tooth.
How Do I Look After My Tooth Filling?
Your tooth filling will last longer if you practice good oral hygiene. Please make sure you come to see us regularly for checkups and cleanings. We can check the condition of your fillings and if necessary will take x-rays to examine a tooth more clearly. Brush at least twice a day and floss once-a-day to keep your fillings and your teeth looking and feeling great.
Think Something is Wrong With a Tooth Filling?
Don’t delay as you could develop tooth ache or a bad tooth infection.
Call Us Today on (828)-676-2114.
Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry serves Avery’s Creek, Arden, Ashville, Oak Park, Fletcher, Royal Pines, Biltmore Park, Biltmore Forest, Bent Creek, Fairview, Beaverdam, Candler, Naples, Mills River, Enka Village, Woodside Hills and the Buncombe County area.
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