Dental Tooth Fillings
Dental fillings are a treatment option to restore the function and appearance of a tooth that is damaged or decayed. Dental fillings are commonly used to treat a cavity. Having a tooth “filled” is a very common procedure and can be completed in one appointment at the office.
How do you know if you might need fillings? Dental cavities sometimes cause pain or sensitivity to hot or cold, but there are times when cavities may not cause pain. It may be possible to see decay on the outside of the tooth, but in many cases, it takes a dental x-ray and examination to detect a cavity.
It is recommended to treat cavities as soon as they are diagnosed in order to have the best chance of saving the original tooth. Waiting to have a filling done can lead to a future dental emergency which could result in the loss of the root or entire tooth. If a cavity is diagnosed and the decay is not extensive, Dr. Chen may recommend dental fillings to restore your tooth to it’s normal form and function.
Types of Dental Fillings
Currently there are two materials commonly used for tooth fillings.
A white/tooth-colored material.This composite resin material is made from a combination of plastic and glass and is more natural-looking.
Amalgam, or silver fillings.
This filling is a metal combination bound together with elemental mercury. The American Dental Association (ADA) as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently list dental amalgam as a safe and effective material for dental restoration.
What are the steps involved in a dental filling?
First, A local anesthetic is used to numb the area being treated. The tooth is then prepared by removing the decayed portion as well as any existing restorative materials.
Once the tooth and area are ready and cleaned, the missing part of the tooth structure is filled with the proper dental filling. The filling material is shaped to match as closely as possible to the original tooth structure. You may be asked to bite down to make sure the new tooth structure fits within your mouth structure comfortably. The filling material is adjusted until the shape of the new tooth structure is comfortable for you.
Healing after a dental filling procedure
Generally this is quick and easy. The staff will provide you with post procedure instructions, which may include such things as:
- avoiding very hot or cold food or beverages
- chewy or hard foods or snacks for a period
You should return to regular use of your teeth within a day or two. Remember, it is important that dental restorations be cared for and regularly maintained to make sure they are strong and intact.