FAQ: What to Know About Dental Fillings

Relax With Sedation Dentistry in Marietta GADo you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you find out you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Michael H. Mulkey of Lost Mountain Dental in Marietta GA want you to know the warning signs that can tell you that you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling 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 an extended period of time due to improper brushing or because the food is sticky, bacteria begin to accumulate. These bacteria release acids which can dissolve the enamel if not cleaned away. This enamel — the outer covering of the tooth — begins to darken gradually depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If this decay is allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually chip away and form a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel.

How Do You Recognize Decay?

  • Dark spots or grey-ish 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. As it is left untreated, it progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity when eating certain foods and constant long-lasting pain that needs medication to be relieved.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

Materials used for fillings were once usually silver amalgam and later were done with cements like glass ionomer. But now the most commonly used substance is plastic composite, a kind of tooth-colored material that starts out soft when applied but hardens when cured with a UV light, bonding 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 a composite is used for a filling, you should be allowed to eat immediately afterwards with no precautions. At that point your tooth is as good as new and you shouldn’t even be able to see where the filing was done. You may experience some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should subside within 48 hours. Some time and wear may be needed to adjust to the filling if it is slightly over or under the level of your bite.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Decay or cavities can be avoided by preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth. Applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid is also an option. Once completed, fillings can be cared for by maintaining 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 usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 years on average but needs to examined by a dentist regularly to ensure it’s holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, call your dentist and schedule to see them as soon possible. These signs can indicate breakdown of the filling and indicate the need for replacement.

If you are in the Marietta GA area and would like a consultation with Dr. Mulkey about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (678) 212-1280 or schedule online with Lost Mountain Dental today!