FAQ: All About Fillings

How Dental Bridges Can Help Your SmileDoes it seem to you like every time you go to the dentist, you’re told you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Tom Trinkner of Columbia, SC want you to be aware of the warning signs that can tell you that you may need one, what to expect when getting a tooth filled and how to care for them.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

When food particles and plaque are allowed to remain on your teeth for extended periods of time due to irregular brushing and flossing or because the food is sticky, bacteria accumulate and feed on this. These bacteria release digestive acids which begin to eat away at the enamel while they’re feasting on plaque. Your enamel — the hard outer layer of your tooth — begins to discolor gradually depending as it dissolves. If allowed to continue, a part of the tooth enamel will eventually chip away forming a cavity that exposes the sensitive insides of your tooth.

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 feel any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist for an examination.

But what does decay feel like? It can start with a mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or sensitivity when eating sweet food. It often moves on to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold food or drinks and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if it is not treated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity when eating certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and can only be relieved with medication.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam and later were done with cements like glass ionomer. These days, the most widely used filling substance is plastic composite, a tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light, chemically bonding it to your teeth.

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?

When filled with composite, you should be allowed you to eat immediately afterwards with no precautions. At that point your tooth is as good as new and you will most likely be unable to see where the filing was done. You may feel some mild to moderate sensitivity in the just-filled tooth which should abate within 48 hours. The filling may take some time and wear to adjust to, if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be prevented by preventive treatments such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth or applying fluoride to promote enamel growth to 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, a filling is not permanent. They can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but need regular annual examinations by your dentist. If you notice any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment to see your dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.

If you are in the Columbia, SC area and would like a consultation with Dr. Trinkner about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call 803.400.8729 or schedule online today!