"Brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily” Sounds familiar? Well, maintaining proper dental hygiene is one of the easiest ways to prevent dental cavities. Research shows that after a common cold, tooth decay is the subsequent most common disease. Fortunately, developing a hole doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose a natural tooth. A competent dentist in La Puente can provide restorative dentistry and save your teeth if a concern is caught in good time. If you need dental fillings, we invite you to contact La Puente Advanced Dentistry. We have a team dedicated to restorative dentistry and can provide a whole array of reliable treatments.
Dental fillings come in handy before a tooth cavity goes from bad to worse. Unfortunately, you may have to consider other treatments if your teeth suffer extensive damage. If your dentist recommends fillings, treatment can restore the appearance and functions of the affected tooth. Most importantly, it will prevent further decay, increasing your chances of enjoying a lifetime of great simplicity.
Dental Fillings Defined
During routine oral checkups, your dentist will conduct physical examinations of your teeth and gums. The expert may then use a small mirror to have a better look at teeth that look discolored. In case you also experience pain or sensitivity, the specialist is likely to recommend an x-ray. The imaging will help establish whether all your teeth are structurally sound.
If a tooth has visible cavities or the dentist unveils a concern through x-rays, you may require treatment using dental fillings. This option is available for patients with minor cavities that are yet to infect the pulp.
So what is a dental filling?
A dental filling is a single or careful blend of plastics, metal, glass, or other materials that help restore decayed teeth’ shape, structure, and functions. As the name suggests, the filling “fills” the cavity to arrest further decay and preserve the overall integrity of the affected tooth.
Types of Dental Fillings
Thanks to the much advancement in dentistry, there are several treatment options you may explore if you have a decayed tooth. One of the best options is seeking dental filling treatments. If the hole is yet to reach the pulp, your dentist can fill it up and make your tooth’s surface look as good as new.
Here are the different types of fillings you can choose from:
Silver Amalgam Fillings
Silver amalgam fillings are the most popular. They contain a blend of materials, including silver, mercury, copper, tin, and zinc. Such fillings are strong, durable, and fairly inexpensive compared to other options, including composite fillings. With proper maintenance, a silver amalgam filling can last for 12—15 years. If you have a huge cavity yet your tooth is still savable, your dentist will likely recommend this type of filling.
On the downside, silver amalgam fillings are not the most aesthetically pleasing and cause allergic reactions to some patients. They are gray and are pretty prone to expanding and contracting due to temperature changes. This poses the risk of the restored tooth developing cracks and fractures. Moreover, your dentist may need to do more prep work on your tooth and ensure the hole is large enough to accommodate the filling.
Composite fillings are an excellent option for patients who suffer allergic reactions to silver amalgam fillings. They contain a combination of plastic and resin material that can be customized to match the hue of a patient’s teeth. This option is not the most long-lasting, and it can provide outstanding service for 5—10 years.
Compared to silver amalgam fillings, composite fillings offer better aesthetics. The dentist will also not need to expand the hole, reducing the risk of causing further damage to your natural tooth.
Ceramic fillings also go by the name porcelain fillings. They are a top choice for many patients because they offer both great aesthetics and maximum longevity. Furthermore, they are stain and abrasion-resistant, and this assures you of a great-looking dental for longer.
The main downside is that the fillings are mainly ideal for fixing large cavities. If you choose them when treating a small cavity, your dentist may need to enlarge the hole during treatment. This option is also more expensive, although you can expect service for roughly 15 years.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are made from a careful blend of glass and acrylic. They make an excellent option for restoring the cavities of kids whose teeth are not fully developed. Glass ionomer fillings release small amounts of fluoride that give the affected tooth added protection from further decay.
One disadvantage of this option is that it can only survive for a few years. The material cracks and wears out over time, making it vital to seek more permanent restorative solutions. It is also worth mentioning that glass ionomer fillings don’t offer the most natural-looking aesthetics.
Last but not least are gold fillings. They offer an excellent method of restoring decayed teeth, especially for anyone looking for the most long-standing solutions. Gold fillings are the most expensive choice, although they can last for over 20 years with proper maintenance.
Another con worth mentioning is that installing gold fillings is not a one-day job. You may have to schedule multiple appointments with your dental specialist.
Dental fillings offer a reliable means of restoring teeth damaged by tooth decay. If you suspect a cavity, visit your dentist as soon as possible and find out the best restorative options for your specific concern.
What Happens When Installing Dental Fillings?
Not so many people are fortunate enough to enjoy cavity-free teeth for a lifetime. A decent number of adults have suffered from at least one tooth cavity.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of tooth decay include:
- Visible pits or holes in the teeth
- Spontaneous tooth pain without an apparent cause
- Dental sensitivity
- Tooth discoloration that is not caused by impact
- Pain when biting down
If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, you should visit your dentist immediately. The sooner you seek restorative dentistry, the greater your chances of saving your natural teeth.
As discussed above, there are various dental filling options you can explore. The most common material used for fixing cavities is composite. If you opt for composite fillings, the installation procedure may involve the following five steps:
Your dentist will need to examine your teeth to identify a concern. After inquiring about your signs and symptoms, the expert will conduct physical exams to have a general idea about your oral health. If the cavity is not apparent, it may be necessary to use x-ray technology to unveil decayed areas of your teeth.
Dental fillings are an excellent option for treating tooth cavities. If you make a perfect candidate for the procedure, your dentist will inform you about the dental filling options you can consider. The ideal choice for you will highly depend on your budget and the level of service you desire from dental fillings.
Installing dental fillings is not the most comfortable procedure. Your dentist will use a numbing agent to make the experience bearable. Depending on the level of prep work needed, the specialist may first use a topical numbing gel before injecting an anesthetic into your gums.
The tooth preparation process begins by removing the decayed areas. Dentists use special high-speed dental drills to remove the rot without damaging the dentin. After this, the expert will use a slower drill to shape the hole and make it ideal for dental filling installation. The preparation process also ensures proper bonding of the filling material.
The dentist will apply an acid gel into the hole to make the surface rough when using composite. This is a necessary step that helps to create a long-lasting bond between the tooth and the filling material. Once the acid does its job, your dentist will clean it out and install the filling.
The filling material needs shaping to ensure a proper bite. Often, dentists can confirm your bite by requesting you to bite down on something. This helps to identify high spots that require further reshaping.
An appointment will only take an hour or two unless you need gold fillings. Usually, patients don’t experience any pain during the procedure. Depending on the type of dental fillings you choose, you can even eat right after an appointment. You, however, need to remember that your mouth is numb with an anesthetic, so you must chew carefully. The last thing you want is to mistake your cheek for your favorite snack.
It is imperative to follow your dentist’s recommendations to the latter. For instance, it is best to wait for a day or two before eating hard foods, significantly if your tooth is restored using silver amalgam fillings. This means you can still eat after the appointment, only that you have to stick to soft foods such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, and soups.
What to Expect After a Procedure
Knowing what to expect after treatment is just as important as knowing what happens during a procedure. Well, it is pretty common to experience mild changes in the overall feel of the treated tooth. The good news is that significant concerns such as sensitivity will only last for a few days.
Patients differ in the experience they have following the installation of dental fillings. While some feel sensitive to cold and hot foods, others are sensitive to air pressure. However, you have reason to return to your dentist if you experience immediate pain or excessive pressure when biting down on food. This is a common concern indicating that the filling requires more reshaping.
Furthermore, you have reason to raise an eyebrow if the sensitivity or pain doesn’t disappear in at least two weeks. It could be that your dentist needs to use a different filling material, add a base to the filling or use a desensitizing agent. In rare cases, the installed filling is too deep, meaning you may require a root canal as part of the treatment.
Be sure to also return to the dental clinic if you experience the following symptoms:
- Warmth or redness of the gum
- Worsening tooth pain
How to Care for a Tooth Filling
Installing dental fillings only takes a few hours, although the recovery period may take about two weeks. Your dentist will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help ease the pain or discomfort that kicks in once the local anesthesia begins to wear off. Anti-inflammatories have pain-killing effects that ensure the body reacts positively to the treatment.
Here are more tips to help speed up your healing journey:
Use Desensitizing Toothpaste
The majority of patients experience some level of tooth sensitivity following the installation of dental fillings. This is pretty normal, and you may experience a sharp pain that lasts for a few seconds when you laugh or consume hot/cold foods and beverages. Desensitizing toothpaste can help ease the discomfort.
Another tip that may come in handy is that you should twitch your brushing techniques a little. The idea is to brush and spit out the foam but skip the rinsing bit. Alternatively, you can rinse your mouth and use a fluoride-based mouthwash afterward. The idea is to leave the fluoride on your teeth for longer. It helps to strengthen the enamel and reduce sensitivity.
Chew With Both Sides of Your Mouth
Another pretty straightforward aftercare tip is to treat the treated tooth as all other natural teeth in your mouth. For instance, chew with both sides of the mouth and avoid the temptation to protect the treated tooth from pressure. Chewing helps to level the filling material and accelerate proper healing.
Moreover, you should brush your teeth twice daily, floss, and use an antiseptic mouthwash afterward. Maintaining your usual oral hygiene routines will keep the treated tooth healthy and also protect the rest of the teeth from the risk of cavities.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet can go a long way in enhancing your overall oral health. It is okay to eat all kinds of meals, although you may want to cut down on sugary foods and beverages. Sugar triggers the production of oral acids that can increase the risk of tooth decay and cause damage to the enamel.
Right after the dental filling, your dentist may recommend a change in your diet for a maximum of 48 hours. After this, it is best to resume your usual diet and perhaps enhance it to include foods that improve dental health.
Kick Out Bad Oral Habits
Limiting your sugar intake will help to keep your teeth and gums in an excellent state. Additionally, you may want to kick out bad habits such as chewing your nails, ice, or clenching your teeth when stressed. A few changes in how you take care of your teeth can help increase the longevity of dental fillings.
Don’t Forget Your Routine Dental Checkups.
Ideally, you should visit your dentist twice every year. During routine appointments, the expert will schedule professional dental cleaning to help keep your teeth in the best possible shape. Most importantly, your dentist will examine your overall oral health and ensure potential issues of concern are identified and addressed in good time. The idea is to protect your teeth from extensive damage that may lead to tooth loss.
Revisit Your Dentist If Healing Takes Longer Than Expected
Following the above tips may help speed up the healing process. However, it is not uncommon for some patients to experience pain and discomfort for more than two weeks. In this case, it is always better to revisit your dentist for a closer checkup.
Additionally, you should check in with your dentist if the filling falls out, breaks, or cracks over time. The specialist can repair or replace it to prevent the need for tooth extraction. Routine visits are also necessary to help catch emerging issues before they go from bad to worse.
Dental fillings provide a fast and convenient way of stopping tooth decay. Timely treatment ensures that the affected tooth has the best chances of being saved. Remember that a dental filling can last for a whole decade or more with proper installation and maintenance.
Find a La Puente Dentist Near Me
There are more than a few excellent reasons to consider dental fillings when treating tooth cavities in La Puente. First, the treatment will protect your natural tooth from further infection and damage. Secondly, the procedure will restore the structural integrity of your tooth and its functions. If you have a tooth cavity and need restorative dentistry, turn to La Puente Advanced Dentistry. We have a well-equipped facility and a skilled team to help you maintain an attractive, healthy, and functional smile for a lifetime. We can also provide customized treatment to ensure you benefit from a treatment plan that matches your unique needs. To schedule for consultation or learn more about our services, please call us today at 626-626-7075.