Congratulations if you have never had a hole! You are not alone if you have experienced one. According to a 2000 study by the U.S. Surgeon General, by the time we turn 17, about 78% of us have experienced at least one cavity. Fortunately, a tooth filling is a tried-and-true method of treating cavities.
Fillings do exactly what their name suggests: they close a tiny opening in your tooth, also known as a cavity, brought on by decay. This stops the decay, which is an infection brought on by bacteria, from moving deeper into the tooth and, if left untreated, from reaching the sensitive inner pulp tissue, which is found in the root canal. You would need tooth canal therapy if that occurred.
Today, a variety of materials are used to fill teeth, but the procedure is the same regardless of the substance. An x-ray clinical examination of the tooth is the first stage in order to assess the level of decay. The decayed portion of the tooth is then removed, typically using a portable tool like a dental drill. Naturally, your teeth will be sedated first, ensuring that you experience no pain. If you typically experience stress prior to getting numbing injections, it's possible that nitrous oxide or anti-anxiety medication will make you feel less anxious. A mildly acidic solution is used to "etch" or roughen the remaining tooth structure after the decay has been removed. Translucent cement is then used to bond the teeth and the filling substance together.
Types of Fillings
Dental fillings can be divided into two major categories: metal fillings and tooth-colored inlays. Each may present unique benefits and drawbacks depending on the circumstances.
Dental amalgam, a popular "silver" filling that has been around for more than a century, is truly an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. The amalgam becomes stable and secure as the mercury joins with the other metals. These fillers are sturdy and affordable, but they are also very apparent. Additionally, compared to other kinds, they need more tooth preparation (drilling).
Cast gold is one of the costliest restorative dental materials because it combines gold with other metals to create a filling that is incredibly durable and strong. It is also very noticeable, which may be viewed as a positive or a drawback.
Composite: A common option for people who don't want their fillings to be visible, composite is a great option. Composite is made of glass and plastic that actually bonds to the tooth's enamel. In comparison to amalgam fillings, composites are more costly, but the newer materials are almost as durable. In comparison to amalgam placement, placing composite requires less dental drilling.
Porcelain tooth ceramics are strong, realistic, and don't stain as easily as composites. Because they might call for the use of a dental laboratory or specialized computer-generated technology, they can occasionally be more costly than composites. Although they are thought to be the most aesthetically pleasing filling, they can also be brittle due to their comparatively high glass content.
Ionomer Glass - low-cost, transparent fillings, which are made of acrylic and glass powders, have the benefit of blending in fairly well with natural tooth pigment and slowly releasing fluoride to help avoid decay. In general, they don't last as well as other healing materials.
What to Expect After Getting a Filling
Within a few hours, the numbness brought on by your local anesthetic should go away. Drinking hot or cold liquids and eating on the side of your tongue with the new filling are best avoided until then. Following a dental filling, some sensitivity to heat and cold is typical for the first few weeks. If it continues after that or if you experience any discomfort while chewing, it might mean that your filling needs to be adjusted. Maintain your daily brushing and flossing routines, and schedule frequent checkups and cleanings at the dentist at least twice a year. And keep in mind that tooth decay is a condition that is highly preventable; with proper oral hygiene and medical attention, you can make your most recent cavity your last!