Do you feel like you need another filling every time you see the dentist? But why do you need them? And how do these fillings actually benefit you? Dental practices like Bella Smiles of Riverhead, Roslyn and Nesconsent on Long Island, NY want you to know the warning signs that you might need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling and how you should care for them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and saliva combine, they can form a clear but sticky substance called plaque which can coat your teeth. If this substance is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, then bacteria will begin breaking down this buildup. However, the digestive acids that these bacteria release will keep eating, moving through the plaque and on to your healthy tooth enamel beneath it. This is tooth decay and, if allowed to continue, it will eventually weaken your enamel, even causing a hole in it — a cavity. Cavities expose the inside of your tooth, making it vulnerable 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 gets stuck
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to make an appointment to see your dentist.
What Does Decay Feel Like?
You may first notice a cavity when you feel a mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or to sweet foods or drinks. If not treated at that stage, the tooth decay may then progress to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks, and discomfort when biting or chewing. Eventually, tooth decay will manifest as an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity when eating certain foods and may eventually lead to constant pain that lasts for hours and must be relieved using medication.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling were once made of silver and later out of cement like glass ionomer. In the world of modern dentistry, the most widely used material for fillings is plastic composite, a tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light, causing it to chemically bond to your teeth.
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?
With a permanent filling made with composite in place, you should be able to eat immediately afterwards with no real restrictions. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and it will be difficult to even see where the filing was done. You may experience some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should abate within 48 hours though. You may also need some time to adjust to the feeling of your filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite as it wears down to the same level as the rest of your tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Your dental office can provide extra protection from cavities in the form of dental treatments such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food from becoming stuck in teeth or having fluoride solution treatments to attract more calcium to your enamel to strengthen it. However, to prevent tooth decay and the need for fillings all together, you really only need to brush twice daily, floss daily, use mouthwash to kill cavity-causing bacteria and see your dental provider regularly — at least twice yearly.
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, your dentist should examine them regularly at routine appointments to make sure they are still holding upl. If you notice any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under or around the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible as this could indicate the need for a replacement filling.
If you are in the Long Island, NY area and would like a consultation about a possible cavity or any dental concern, schedule at our Riverhead (631- 591-3243), Roslyn (516-801-6777) or Nesconset (631-724-0094) offices today.