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Do you have a sensitive and painful tooth? You might have a cavity!

Cavities are common, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of. As a matter of fact, 92% of adults have had some form of dental decay in their lifetimes (though not all have resulted in serious cavities). 

When you have cavities, the most common treatment plan includes getting dental fillings. This is a quick and easy procedure that clarifies the decay from your tooth and protects the inside of your tooth from future damage.

If this is all new to you, though, you might think that this process is scary. That’s why we’re here to explain things. Keep reading to learn all about dental fillings so you can walk into your next dentist’s appointment with confidence.

Why Do I Need a Dental Filling?

Only a dentist can tell you whether or not you need a dental filling. That said, if you have teeth that are sensitive to changes in temperature, inflamed gums, or mouth pain, you may also have a cavity that needs filling. 

When your dentist has decided that you need to get a dental filling, it’s because you have significant enough tooth decay that it’s irreversible. They’ve decided that a filling is the only way to protect the integrity of your tooth and your overall dental health. 

When you have a cavity, the bacteria and decay can spread throughout the tooth. This results in the tooth becoming so damaged that you may have to get a root canal (a more complicated procedure). 

When you have a lot of decay in your teeth, it also damages your gums. Gums in mouths full of decay and bacteria develop gum disease (otherwise known as periodontal disease), which can have several adverse health effects.

A dental filling is an easy procedure to get rid of the problem while still in its infancy.  

What Types of Dental Fillings Are There?

Dental fillings come in several varieties. Some are more common than others. The choice of filling material is often up to the dentist doing the filling, though you may have some say. Pricing may vary. 

Composite fillings are the most popular for teeth that are easily visible when you’re laughing, smiling, or talking. The composite material is tooth-colored, meaning that it’s invisible once the filling is complete. It looks great when it replaces the dark color of a cavity.

Composite often doesn’t last as long as other types of fillings, and it can stain like your natural teeth. You may need to get a replacement filling within ten to fifteen years.

Amalgam fillings are also popular. These dental fillings are silver in color, making them more noticeable. They’re often used on back teeth. They hold up better than composite feelings.

Gold fillings aren’t as popular as they once were. When you get a gold filling, you may have to have multiple dentist visits. While these fillings are durable, they’re also expensive, and many dentists no longer offer them. 

Porcelain fillings are another expensive filling option. These dental fillings are tooth-colored and stain-resistant. They’re also more durable than the other fillings. 

What’s the Dental Filling Process? 

A dental filling doesn’t take much time, so try not to worry. It’s a simple procedure. 

Your dentist may provide you with sedation options. For fillings, the most common sedation method is nitrous oxide (or laughing gas). When you use nitrous oxide, you won’t be aware during the procedure, but it wears off quickly enough for you to drive home. 

If you choose not to get sedated, your dentist will use a local anesthetic. They’ll inject it into the gum area closest to the tooth and leave it to “set in” for a few minutes while preparing for the procedure.

When you’re numb, the dentist will use a small drill to make a hole in your tooth, clear out decay, and smooth the surface. During this time, they’ll flush your mouth with water and use suction to ensure that everything is cleared out before they start the actual filling process. 

Your dentist will carefully plug up the hole in the tooth with the chosen filling material. With composite, the dentist will shine a light on the filling to set it in place.

After this, they’ll file down the filling. They’ll have you bite down to see if the tooth matches your natural bite and make any necessary adjustments. 

Is There Aftercare Involved? 

Because a filling is a quick and easy outpatient procedure, aftercare is simple. 

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is the anesthetic. Your mouth will stay numb for up to several hours after the procedure, so it’s a good idea to eat before you go in for your filling (unless you plan on heavy sedation).

There are some reported ways to make the numb feeling go away faster, but there’s no evidence to suggest that they’re effective.

While you’re numb, be careful with any hot or crunchy foods. It’s easy to damage your gums or burn the area near your tooth when you can’t feel what’s happening. 

Your tooth may still have some sensitivity after the filling. This is normal. You shouldn’t feel any pain. 

Do You Have a Cavity In Need of a Dental Filling? 

There’s no reason to be afraid of dental fillings. Dentists perform fillings every day. They’re a safe routine procedure. 

When you’re suffering from tooth pain, it’s easy to avoid the pain from needles and drills. In reality, the filling procedure is nearly painless, and you’ll feel so much relief afterward.

Are you looking for an experienced dentist to help you with your tooth pain? We want to help you. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.