How do dentists fill cavities?
Fillings are a way for dentists to restore a partially decayed tooth.
While many people fear the dentist, this procedure is typically quick, effective, and inexpensive.
Without fillings, cavities can rapidly worsen. Seeing a dentist regularly can help you to monitor the condition of your teeth and plan for corrective procedures.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 93 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have cavities, and at least 29 percent have decay that is untreated.
Dentists can quickly identify tooth decay and then come up with a plan of action that involves filling teeth and restoring adverse conditions.
You can do your part by sticking to a solid at-home oral hygiene routine.
By simply brushing twice a day with a fluoride-treated toothpaste and flossing regularly, you can prevent the build up of bacteria-rich plaque and eliminate cavity-causing conditions.
How can you tell if you have a cavity?
Unless you’re a dentist, it’s difficult to determine whether or not you have a cavity. However, the following symptoms may indicate you’re suffering from dental decay:
- Pain and/or Sensativity
- Aesthetic Blemishes
- Bad Odor
How do dentists fill cavities?
In order to fill a cavity, a dentist must
First scrape away the decayed area of the tooth.
Next, the remaining hole is sterilized and prepped for filling.
The hole is then filled with a material such as an amalgam, resin, or even gold.
Finally, the dentist will buff the surface of the tooth to assure the tooth has been properly refurbished.
Oftentimes, dentists will inject a local anesthetic to ease the area being worked on.
Cavity Filling Material
There are a variety of cavity filling materials to choose from. These materials vary in strength, aesthetic, and price. Dentists typically offer the following choices:
- Silver Analgam
- Tooth-colored Resin
- Glass Ionomer
These materials vary in strength, durability, and cost. Oftentimes, a dentist will offer you an array of filling materials to choose from.
The tooth-colored resin is the preferred choice when it comes to aesthetics. Yet, gold and silver composites are far more durable.
If you’re debating between filling materials, your dentist may advise you to consider the location of the cavity, your insurance coverage, and the condition of the tooth.
According to Mouth Healthy, which was founded by the American Dental Association, patients have the right to choose their filling material. That being said, a dentist can help you make the best possible decision.
No matter which cavity filling material you choose, you can be happy it is there! There is nothing worse than untreated dental decay!
How long do cavity fillings take?
The time it takes to fill a cavity varies on the extent of decay. However, most procedures take between 15 minutes and an hour.
The amount of time needed to fill a cavity is minimal compared to procedures such as root canals, crowns, and bridges.
A filling procedure often begins with the injection of a local anesthetic. This takes between five and ten minutes.
How long do cavity fillings take? Not that long! In fact, untreated cavities will cost you far more time and effort than those you fill!
Cavity Filling Aftercare
Cavity filling aftercare is a lifetime commitment.
Patients are often advised to avoid eating solid foods for a short period following a filling procedure.
This is because the local anesthesia often causes a disorienting numbness that can result in a patient biting their gums or lips.
Once your mouth regains feeling, you may notice some sensitivity or discomfort. Unless this discomfort persists beyond several weeks, there is no need for concern.
In rare instances, a filling may need to be adjusted. If you notice that the new filling is obstructing or altering your usual bite, contact your dentist.
If anything, fillings should work to improve your bite.
Depending on the filling material, it can take anywhere between a few minutes (with the help of a blue dental light) to 48 hours for a filling to fully set.
Your dentist may advise you to take a painkiller to reduce any possible post-procedure discomfort.
Remember, even the strongest filling materials are only expected to last up to 15 years. Continue to visit the dentist twice annually to assure you’re monitoring the condition of the repair.
In the future, chew responsibly. Avoid hard foods that could damage your teeth or fillings.
If you suspect your filling has been damaged, seek immediate dental care.
A loose or broken filling needs to be properly disinfected and replaced to avoid infection.
Cavity Filling During Pregnancy
It is important to treat dental decay during pregnancy.
You may need to wait until after birth for x-rays, whitening, and various other dental procedures, but cavities should be treated as soon as possible.
Oral bacteria and tooth decay can lead to infections and can even put the baby and mother at risk.
Pregnant women often avoid getting a cavity filling during pregnancy because they fear the procedure will harm the unborn fetus. However, there is more risk in leaving decay alone.
As always, brush and floss often to prevent dental decay.
According to the American Dental Association, pregnant women should brush their teeth twice daily with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste.
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