Every time you eat or drink something you provide food for the bacteria that live in your mouth. If you don’t take proper care of your teeth – brush and floss – the bacteria will eventually lead to dental cavities. Cavities occur when the bacteria bore holes in your teeth and left untreated they can become infected. Dental fillings are used to stop further damage and also to strengthen a tooth that has a cavity. There are different types of fillings available and your dentist will discuss them with you so that you can decide which ones you want.
These are fillings that are made out of plastic resin and they are quite popular. They are made to match the color of your teeth. They can be direct or indirect. The direct type are inserted using a light that hardens the resin and can be placed in one visit to your dentist. Indirect resins are prepared after the dentist makes a mold of the affected tooth and are placed on a second visit to the dentist. Composite fillings can be used to fill both large and small cavities and they can last up to 5 years. The biggest advantage of these fillings is that they are placed without too many visits to the dentist and also the fact that they match the color of the teeth. One reason why people sometimes don’t choose composite fillings is the fact that they are expensive.
Cast gold fillings
These are made out of gold which may be mixed with other metals. People choose them because of how long they last – they can go for 15 years without requiring replacement. They do not corrode and look quite nice when placed in the teeth. The problem with cast gold fillings is that they are very expensive – you will pay up to 10 times as much as you would for other types of fillings.
As the name suggests these fillings are made out of porcelain and they are quite common. They can last for more than 7 years and they are affordable. Their benefits include the fact that they are the same color as natural teeth and also that they are resistant to stains. The problem with them is that they are more brittle than other types of fillings and because of their bulk dentists usually have to pare down the tooth in order to place them.
Silver or mercury fillings
These were very common in the past but are less so now because of fears that the mercury can leak into the body and cause poisoning. The truth, however, is that there has been no concrete evidence of this. The reason why many dentists don’t recommend them is the way they look, and also the fact that they don’t bond to the tooth.
The process of placing a filling
Once your dentist has determined that there is decay in a tooth (using x-rays and other means) he will numb the area around the tooth using anesthesia. He will then use a small drill and other tools to drill into the hole so that he can take out the decayed part or pulp in order to create space for the filling. Once all the pulp is out he will shape the hole and make sure that there is no pulp left. He will then sanitize it before placing the filling. Depending on the filling the dentist may use a light to harden it. After this is done he will polish the tooth so that it looks like the rest of your teeth.
Before and after dental fillings
There is not much preparation for you to do before a dental filling. The important thing to do is ask your dentist any questions that you have. If you are feeling anxious about the procedure you can ask him to prescribe something to relax you. You will take it a few hours before your dental visit.
After the procedure you may feel a little sore. Your dentist will prescribe some painkillers and antibiotics if he considers it necessary. If you feel a lot of pain it is because the filling is too high – this can easily be fixed by your dentist. Your tooth may also be sensitive so it is important that you stay away from cold and hot foods and beverages for some time.
Fillings fall out sometimes. This happens when saliva gets into the cavity and stops the filling material from bonding with the tooth. If that happens you should see your dentist right away to have another one placed. Fillings can also crack after they are placed exposing your tooth to further decay.
Fillings do not last forever – the longest lasting ones are made out of gold and they need to be replaced after 15 years. Other types require replacement after less than 10 years. It is important to keep your dental appointments – your dentist will inspect your fillings during each visit to determine whether they require to be replaced. Getting fillings is not an alternative to good oral hygiene – you should brush and floss at least twice a day whether you have fillings or not.