If you have suffered tooth decay your dentist will have to drill into the tooth and take out the pulp and any other diseased bits of tooth that may be in there.
This leaves a small hole and this hole has to be filled – if it is left open it will only serve to weaken the tooth further. Teeth are usually filled with dental fillings, which can be made out of a range of synthetic materials. Dental fillings are not just useful in teeth that have cavities. They can also be used to repair damaged teeth and even for cosmetic purposes.
Dental feelings are made of different materials. Amalgam fillings used to be quite common and they are made up of silver, zinc, tin, copper and mercury. They are strong and can last for up to 10 years but the downside is that they tend to discolor over time. Some people worry about these dental fillings having mercury. Studies have however shown that the amounts are insignificant and do not have adverse effects.
Composite dental fillings are made of finely ground glass and plastic and can last for up to 5 years. They are affordable but they two downsides: they take longer to place than amalgam fillings and they can also shrink over time. Gold is one of the most expensive fillings and it is strong and long lasting. The downside to gold fillings, however, is that they are expensive and some people do not like the fact that they do not match the rest of the teeth. Ceramic fillings, usually made of porcelain can last for up to 7 years and the great thing about them is that they look like natural teeth. They however can break under repetitive chewing stress and the teeth usually have to be filed smaller than with other fillings.
As you can see, the dental types of dental fillings come with advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you to decide, with the help of your dentist, which fillings will suit you best. Along with durability, you will have to take into account the cost. If you don’t have a lot of money you can discuss options. There are many dentists who are happy to put their patients on payment plans, and you can also consider the cost of having a cheap filling installed and then covered up with a crown.
What is the process of installing dental fillings?
The process will depend on the extent of damage that your teeth have suffered. If it is extensive then it will take more than one visit for your procedure to be complete. If, however, you are only filling a small hole it takes minimal preparation and filling and you should be done in an hour or two. If you are filling a tooth that has tooth decay the first thing that the dentist will do is remove the decay by drilling through the top of the tooth. He will take out the pulp and any other diseased tissue that may be in there and then clean the area. An anesthetic is used to make sure that you suffer minimal discomfort.
The next process is called etching which prepares the tooth for the filling. It is done using acid but it is not painful as you are already anesthetized. The filling is then placed in the hole and may be bonded to it either using a special kind of glue or a special kind of light that fastens the filling to the tooth. Once the filling in place the dentist will then polish it smooth – left rough it will feel very uncomfortable against your tongue.
While teeth fillings can be left as they are, your dentist may advise that you consider having crowns inserted. These are thin caps that cover the tooth from the jaw line all the way to the top and there are several reasons why you should consider having them installed. The first is that they will make your tooth even stronger. Think of them as some kind of scaffolding for a tooth that is already weak. While the dental filling takes care of the cavity, it doesn’t make a tooth that much stronger. If you want to be sure that your tooth will not give you trouble ever again you should have it covered with a crown. The other advantage of crowns is that they hide unsightly fillings. If you are not able to afford the more expensive kind of fillings you can use cheap ones and then have them covered up with crowns – they will look just like your original teeth.
How to recover from a dental filling
Since a dental filling will come in contact with the nerve endings in your tooth you will need some time to recover. Fortunately, there is no pain; if there is it is very little and can be treated with over the counter pain killers. The problem that most people report is teeth sensitivity. This is to be expected because nerves were touched. This shouldn’t worry you too much. Avoid hot and cold drinks and food and also avoid opening your mouth as you may experience sensitivity to cold or hot air. It should go away after a couple of days, at most a week. If it persists for more than 3 weeks you should let your dentist know. Because you had to open your mouth wide for a couple of hours for the procedure you may also feel a little sore but this should go away. Avoid eating hard things like candies until your filling has set for a few weeks.
Dental fillings are not a replacement for good dental hygiene. You have to take even better care of your teeth than you did before because if you don’t you will develop even more cavities that will need more fillings. You should brush after every meal, floss and rinse with a good mouthwash. See your dentist at least twice a year to have your fillings inspected. It isn’t unheard of for fillings to become lose – your dentist will determine the best course of action if this happens.
There are some dentists that give warranties on dental fillings. This is definitely a safe way to go. For one, it shows you that the dentist stands by his work – he will do it well because he doesn’t want to have to repeat it. The other thing that a warranty tells you is that if anything goes wrong with the filling you can have it repaired or replaced for free.