Dental fillings are the most common restorative procedure performed by dentists. Because most people get cavities at some point in their lives, many also have dental fillings, which are used to restore the structure of a tooth after it has been damaged by decay. Here’s how dental fillings work and what you can expect from the process.
Understanding Tooth Decay
In the earliest stages of a cavity, you might not have any symptoms at all, but as it grows and progresses, you’re likely to experience toothaches and difficulty eating and chewing. If a cavity is left untreated, it may affect so much of the external tooth structure that it must be replaced with a crown. Other times, a cavity is so deep that a root canal is needed.
Dental fillings are the most conservative treatment option for tooth decay. When cavities are caught early enough, fillings are an excellent way to restore a tooth while leaving most of the structure intact. Unlike traditional crowns, inlays, and onlays, fillings are performed chairside, as they are applied directly to the tooth, rather than being fabricated in a dental laboratory or by a milling machine.
What Happens When You Get a Dental Filling
The process of getting a dental filling begins by numbing the affected tooth and the tissue surrounding it. Once your tooth is numbed, a dental drill is used to carefully remove all areas of decay. You may feel warmth, movement, and vibration while your tooth is being drilled, but you won’t feel any pain. Your mouth will be suctioned to remove debris, and you’ll also have the opportunity to rinse before we start filling in your tooth.
At DDS Group, we provide our patients with high-quality composite fillings. Also known as white fillings, these restorations are made with a tooth-colored material that blends in naturally with the rest of your smile, so no one will notice your filling. Many patients prefer these fillings because they are not made with mercury or other metals; they’re also less prone to sensitivity from hot and cold sensations.
In order to apply the composite material, your tooth is etched, which prepares the tooth surface for the filling, allowing the resin to adhere better. The composite resin is used to fill in the tooth structure that was removed; after shaping the material, it’s cured to harden it. The filling is then polished and buffed to create a smooth, lustrous surface and to ensure that your filling doesn’t change how your teeth fit together when you bite or chew.
A composite filling is hardened in our office, so as soon as you leave, you’ll be able to eat, brush, floss, etc. Still, the area may be sensitive for a few days, so you may want to avoid biting and chewing with the affected tooth, and take extra care to be gentle while brushing and flossing.