If you had a tooth that pained you and got a filling, know that caring for dental fillings is a simple process but an important one. You want to take good care of that bad tooth to prevent further decay.
After your dentist removes the damaged or decayed part of the teeth, they will patch the space with a dental filling. Dr. Beshar has the experience and specialized training to apply dental fillings that last and keep your tooth strong. He also wants his patients to know what happens after a filling to take great care of their teeth in the future.
The process is usually pretty quick, but this depends on the type of material used and the size of the cavity. Composite resin material takes extra time because they have to be layered on the tooth. Composite fillings may require a second visit but a single filling usually takes under an hour in one stop.
Read on to learn more about dental fillings and how to take care of them.
Dental Filling Materials
Today, several dental filling materials are available. Your dental fillings may be made of silver, gold, amalgam, or composite. Silver fillings and gold fillings are what they sound like. A new product called a glass ionomer might be recommended to you if your cavity is near or below the gum line.
Glass ionomers release fluoride, which can protect the tooth.
Composite resin fillings are a mix of plastic and glass. These dental fillings are popular because of their strength and durability, though composite fillings wear out faster than amalgams.
Amalgams have been used to repair hundreds of millions of decayed teeth. These fillings are both durable and affordable. Silver amalgam is popular because of its durability. However, silver amalgam fillings are not right for every patient because some are allergic to one or more metals.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends against having amalgam fillings removed if the filling is in good condition. The mercury vapor released when removing these dental fillings during removal is a health hazard. Plus, the removal process can destroy some healthy tooth material. The FDA also advises against amalgam restorations for patients who are sensitive to one of the ingredients.
Other than this, the amalgam-type filling material is safe. Don’t be concerned about mercury in amalgam fillings because the mercury is mixed with other metals. The FDA considers amalgam-type fillings safe. The American Dental Association and the World Health Organization also agree that dental amalgam in tooth fillings is safe.
Tooth-colored fillings exist too. Patients who want the natural look should ask about getting a tooth-colored composite resin, not an amalgam.
Onlays, Outlays and Dental Fillings
A dental onlay is a cap made of composite, resin, gold, or porcelain. These outlays are useful when dental fillings might not work, but the tooth is not damaged enough to require a crown. This is why onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.
A dentist may recommend a regular crown instead of an inlay if additional tooth decay occurs around a filling.
Dental inlays, which are also called indirect fillings, are another alternative to regular dental fillings. They need to be applied in a two-step process. The first step involves removing decayed material and making an impression of the tooth for a dental laboratory.
Dentists use temporary fillings to protect the damaged tooth. In the second step, the dentist applies the inlay. You do want to get that temporary filling replaced. Outlays and inlays are more durable than traditional fillings.
Those options will somewhat depend on how much sound the tooth structure remains after the decay has been removed. If there is not enough tooth structure left after your dentist removes the old filling or the decay, an inlay may be used.
Caring for Your Filling
Regardless of whether you get a conventional filling, an inlay, or an outlay, dental fillings require the same care. The only real difference lies in the filling material.
Remember that it takes time for a filling to set after the procedure. The amount of time varies depending on the material. Ask your dentist how long you should wait before resuming your normal eating and drinking habits.
Don’t eat hard foods, and be careful about eating in general until the local anesthetic has worn off. If you aren’t careful, you can bite your tongue or cheek!
The most important thing you can do is to carry on with good oral hygiene practices. Brush twice a day and floss every night. Limit your intake of sugary food.
You may want to change your diet after a filling. Avoid sticky, hard, or chewy foods. Those foods can pull a filling loose over time. But do resume gentle brushing and flossing around the tooth.
Pain or Sensitivity After a Filling
A new filling may not have set, so that filled tooth will be extra sensitive. Aside from that issue, there are a couple of reasons for pain and sensitivity. Dentists are good at creating a filling that matches your mouth and won’t affect your bite. Nothing is perfect, though. Biting down on a filling that is too high can cause pain.
A little pain or sensitivity is not unusual. You can ease your recovery by not chewing on the side of your mouth with the filling. You may also want to avoid hot or cold foods and beverages. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth after you get your filing.
Your dentist may also place a “raincoat” over the tooth during the process. This causes stress on the soft tissues in the mouth. A little pain and sensitivity are normal in that case. Some pain is normal and should go away in a week or so.
If your filling still bothers you after a week or so, call your dentist’s office and schedule a visit. You want to be sure any problem with the tooth or filling gets identified and fixed as soon as possible.
Visit Our Office Soon
If you need a filling or think you do, please make an appointment soon. Dr. Behsar has experience with dental fillings of every kind. Regular dental visits can help you avoid needing more fillings.