Dental Fillings – Solution for Repairing Teeth
No dental patient wants to hear that they need a filling, but almost everyone will wind up in this position at some point. The good news is that there’s no reason to e nervous. Dentists place fillings every day, and the process is relatively straightforward. Read on to find out what patients need to know before getting their first dental fillings.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dentists use dental fillings to treat cavities, often referred to by dentists as caries. Placing them involves injecting novocaine, removing the decayed portion of the patient’s tooth using a drill or laser, cleaning the area, and filling it in to protect the nerve. Dentists can also use fillings to repair minor cracks, breaks, and wear from misuse.
All of this information about when and how dentists use fillings begs the question, what is a dental filling? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as some people might assume. There are several types of dental fillings, each with advantages and disadvantages. Still, all of them serve the same essential purpose as described above.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
Not too long ago, humankind made most fillings from silver amalgam, which consisted of mercury combined with metals like silver, zinc, copper, and tin. These days, patients have an increased range of options. Dentists generally choose which material to use based on the extent and location of the decay, allergies to filling materials, a patient’s dental insurance, and their budget.
While it’s always best to let an expert decide which material will be the best choice, patients shouldn’t be afraid to offer input. So here’s what they need to know about each of the most common types of fillings:
- Gold fillings are the most expensive option. They require multiple visits, but they’re well-tolerated by gum tissues and can last for decades.
- Silver amalgam fillings are inexpensive and resistant to wear. Still, they aren’t the best choice for visible areas because of their dark color.
- Composite resins are suitable for smaller fillings in visible areas because dentists can match the color of the patient’s teeth. They’re less durable than other types of fillings, though, and can quickly become stained, so they don’t last as long.
- Dentists can also match porcelain fillings to a patient’s tooth color. Still, this material staining is much better than composite resin. Porcelain fillings are sometimes referred to as inlays or onlays and must be custom-made and bonded to the patient’s tooth, so they’re similar in cost to the gold fillings described above.
Who Needs a Dental Filling?
Dentists decide when to place a filling based on a combination of visual examination and X-ray imaging. A dentist will use a mirror to examine each tooth’s surface during a patient’s annual exam, looking for discoloration and other abnormalities. The dentist will order X-rays to check the extent of the damage and decide whether a filling is the best option if anything looks amiss, or if a patient has been complaining of sensitivity to temperature changes and other issues that could indicate tooth defects or decay,
Who Should Get a Dental Crown Instead?
Dental fillings are best for patients with minor to moderate tooth decay or damage. However, suppose the damage to a patient’s tooth is severe, or the area affected by decay is large. In that case, the dentist will usually recommend placing a crown instead. Crown placement is a more involved process that often requires multiple visits, offering a better long-term solution for patients struggling with severe decay and damage.
What Is It Like After Getting a Dental Filling?
It’s important to note that some patients experience changes in sensation following the placement of a filling. For example, some people report increased sensitivity to cold, sugar, pressure, or even air after receiving a dental filling. Still, these sensations usually don’t last for long. The increased sensitivity usually lasts no more than one to two weeks.
While it’s normal to experience some temporary changes in tooth sensitivity, it’s not normal to be in immediate pain after having the filling placed. It’s also a bad sign if a patient feels extra pressure on their tooth upon biting down. These issues may indicate that the filling is too tall and needs to be adjusted, which is a familiar but easily correctible feeling.
It’s also surprisingly common for patients to experience galvanic shocks after getting fillings. This kind of sensation, which most people describe as a sharp shock, occurs when two different metals touch each other and produce an electric current in the patient’s mouth.
Suppose any sensations changes are extremely painful or last for more than two weeks. In that case, that’s a good sign it’s time to schedule another visit with the dentist. The dentist may need to remove a filling to place a liner or apply a desensitizing agent to the tooth, or the filling material may need to be changed. If the filling is already very deep, getting rid of sensitivity and pain may require a root canal.
Get Help Now
Getting a filling placed is one of the most straightforward and painless dental procedures. On the other hand, putting it off can increase damage and decay, necessitating a root canal. Therefore schedule an appointment to have the filling placed right away.