Have you been dealing with a toothache? You may be concerned that a cavity has developed, leaving a small hole in your tooth. When a cavity is left untreated, it can develop into a large hole, which exposes the root of your tooth. Bacteria can enter and erode the tooth to its nerves, which requires extensive dental work to fix – if you’ve ever had a root canal, you’ll understand why this is not a pleasant situation. So how do you stop a cavity in its tracks? This is why dental fillings were developed. To learn more about how to save a damaged tooth, read on:
What is a filling?
Dental fillings are treatments that repair cavities by filling in the gaps they leave, which prevents further tooth decay and restores function to the tooth. Fillings create protection for the teeth that need them. Composite fillings are tooth-coloured and nearly undetectable, while amalgam ones are more noticeable but can endure more pressure.
Who needs a filling?
If you have a cavity, you may need a filling to repair the tooth decay and fill in the gap. Tooth-coloured fillings can be used to replace parts of broken teeth or teeth that are damaged due to bruxism (tooth grinding). Those who want to improve the cosmetic appearance of their teeth may be interested in composite fillings due to their natural shades. Before a cavity starts to erode the root of your tooth, have it fixed with a filling.
Types of fillings:
There are different types of filling materials that can be used, each with advantages and disadvantages. To give you a better idea of the best dental fillings for you, we’ll go over their key differences:
Fillings that match your tooth colour offer the most natural-looking solution for cavities. Composite fillings are made of plastic and glass and they’re rising in popularity due to their tooth-coloured appearance. Someone may choose to get a composite filling if their tooth is chipped, cracked, decayed, or there is a space between two teeth. Composite fillings have an aesthetic advantage, but they tend to require more frequent replacements than metal ones. The materials used in these dental fillings are easy for dentists to mould onto a tooth, shaping it to look natural. Each composite filling is custom-made to match your tooth colour. Composite fillings require less enamel to be removed since they can adhere more easily to the natural tooth structure than metal ones. But composite fillings offer less strength than metal ones, so they are ideal for areas that experience moderate chewing, like the front or mid teeth. Restore strength and enjoy the subtlety of a tooth-coloured material by asking your dentist about composite fillings.
Also referred to as a metal or silver filling, this material is a mix of liquid mercury and an alloy made of silver, tin, and copper. Amalgam fillings are durable and last longer than other types of dental fillings. Due to their colour, it’s best to have amalgam fillings on the back molars where they aren’t as visible. Composite fillings are more natural-looking than silver fillings, but not as strong. The strength of amalgam fillings makes them ideal for molars to withstand the pressure of chewing. A silver filling is more noticeable, but some may prefer this look over a tooth-coloured filling – it depends on personal preference. On average, an amalgam filling is less expensive than a composite one.
What to expect during the procedure:
If you’re worried about the pain, don’t be – you will be fully frozen for your procedure and won’t feel a thing. The gums, surrounding skin, and teeth will be numbed to alleviate any discomfort. Using a drill, the dentist will remove the decayed material from the tooth structure. Then the filling will be applied to enclose the space. After the material has adhered and dried, you’ll be done with your dental filling! You can expect that numbness will continue for several hours after your dental procedure, so avoid chewing on the frozen side of your mouth.
There are some differences during the procedure for amalgam or composite fillings. The material of the composite filling is easier to shape, so this process may take longer for amalgam fillings. But the tooth has to remain completely dry and clean when a composite filling is applied; they tend to take longer to place overall. Most fillings take around an hour to complete.
What are the advantages of dental fillings?
They will improve your oral hygiene by preventing tooth decay. When a dental filling is applied, you won’t have to worry about a cavity that requires a root canal. A tooth that’s cracked can be protected by a filling; it will bind the pieces together and prevent it from breaking further. Composite fillings are subtle and blend with your surrounding teeth, so they’ll fill cavities without looking obvious. Even though metal fillings are more noticeable, some appreciate their flashy look.
How do I take care of a filling?
Immediately after your filling, your tooth may be more sensitive, but this should pass in the coming weeks. You can use toothpaste that’s designed for sensitive teeth if this is an issue for you. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene will ensure that your dental fillings last a long time. Since composite fillings are more breakable than metal ones, you’ll want to take extra care with these teeth. Try not to bite your nails, since this causes damage to the teeth. Don’t chew foods that are hard like ice or candy. You’ve heard it before, but it’s still true: remember to brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Try using a mouthwash with fluoride to give your teeth extra protection.
When cavities are caught early and are not too deep, we can fully repair them with no freezing. You read that right: filling cavities without freezing! This can be done with dental microabrasion or air abrasion. This technique uses high-pressure particles to remove the decayed part of the tooth, leaving a fresh surface we can repair with a dental filling. Our patients love leaving the dentist after a filling without numbness in their lip or cheek!
Catching a cavity early enough to treat in this manner is a good reason to make sure you’re having regular check-ups and practicing excellent oral hygiene.
As a minimally invasive procedure, enamel microabrasion can also be used to treat stains or discolouration in teeth.
Save your teeth from cavities by having a qualified dentist insert a filling. At WestSide Dental Group located in the Charleswood area of Winnipeg, we provide both composite fillings and metal fillings. If you’re concerned about a cavity, contact our office; we will help you find the best solution for your teeth.