Do you feel like you get yet another filling every time you see the dentist? Dentists like Dr. Vernon Sheen of Annapolis, MD want you to be aware of the warning signs that can tell you that you may need a filling, what to expect when you’re getting a filling and how to care for them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and plaque are allowed to accumulate on your teeth for extended periods of time due to infrequent or improper brushing or because the food is sticky, then bacteria will gather to feast. As part of their digestion these bacteria release acids which dissolve your enamel as they dissolve the food particles.
Your enamel — the hard outer layer of your tooth — begins to discolor gradually depending on how much it has weakened and dissolved. If the bacteria and plaque are not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, that portion of the tooth will eventually chip away and become a hole in your tooth’s enamel — a cavity.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often goes into
- Holes where food gets stuck
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
What does decay feel like? It usually begins with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or passing sensitivity when eating sweet foods. Then it often progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing.
When left untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden, extreme sensitivity when eating certain foods and constant pain that can last for hours and may need medication to relieve it.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Filling materials were once almost always silver amalgam and later were finished with cements like glass ionomer. In modern days, the most widely used substance is plastic composite — a tooth-colored resin that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light, chemically bonding it to your tooth enamel.
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?
You should be able to eat on your filled tooth immediately after the procedure. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you will usually be unable to see where the filing was placed. You may still have some mild to moderate sensitivity in your tooth but this should pass within 48 hours. It may take some time and wear to adjust to the filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Tooth decay and cavities it causes can be prevented by treatments such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth or applying fluoride to attract more calcium to the enamel and protect the tooth from further decay by bacterial acid. Fillings that have been completed can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including brushing twice a day, regularly using mouthwash and flossing daily.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Contrary to popular belief, fillings will not last forever. A filling usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but may need regular annual examinations to see that they are holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule to see your dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for immediate replacement of the filling.
If you are in the Annapolis, MD area and would like a consultation with Dr. Sheen about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (443) 482- 5202 or schedule online today!