A Few Facts About Fillings

improve your gum health birmingham alDo you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Bruce Spink of Birmingham, AL want you to know the warning signs that you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling and how to care for them so they last.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

When food particles combine with saliva they can form plaque, a clear but sticky substance that will coat your teeth if not brushed off. If plaque is allowed to remain in contact with your teeth for extended periods of time due to improper brushing or because the food it contains is sticky, then a collection of bacteria will gather to feed on this plaque. These bacteria release digestive acids which begin to eat away at your enamel. Eventually your tooth enamel begins to become discolored depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually break away, forming a hole in your tooth’s enamel known as a cavity.  Cavities open up your tooth to infections as well as exposing the sensitive nerves inside..

How Do You Recognize Decay?

  • Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
  • Chipped off areas that your tongue often goes into
  • Holes where food gets stuck

If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.

What Does Decay Feel Like?

It can begin with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or transient sensitivity when eating sweet food. It usually progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if it continues to go untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity on certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam and later were done with cements like glass ionomer. But now the most widely used filling substance is plastic composite, a kind of tooth-colored material. Composite is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light,  chemically bonding to your teeth.  This seals them up and reinforces the area that was weakened by tooth decay.

How Much Will It Cost?

Costs of fillings can vary widely on:

  • The material being used by the dentist
  • Skill and experience of the dentist
  • The size of the filling
  • Amount of remaining tooth structure

What Should I Expect After A Filling?

A permanent filling when done with plastic composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no restrictions. Your tooth is as good as new and you shouldn’t be able to see where the filing was done. You may feel some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should abate within 48 hours. It may take some time and wear to adjust to the feeling of the filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Decay or cavities can be prevented by preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food from becoming stuck there and forming plaque.  Another option is applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Once done, fillings can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.

How Long Will My Filling Last?

Contrary to popular belief, fillings do not last forever. A filling can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but requires regular annual exams by a dentist to inspect it and make certain it’s holding up well. If you see any signs of discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule a visit with your area dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.

If you are in the Birmingham, AL area and would like a consultation with Dr. Spink about a possible cavity or any other possible dental concern, call (205) 235-5043 or schedule online today!