Dr. Jennifer Vitarelli

All You Need to Know About Dental Fillings: Causes, Process, and Maintenance

A cavity isn’t a dental issue only experienced by those who seem to have never touched a toothbrush in their lives. In fact, plenty of people develop cavities in spite of brushing twice (or thrice) a day, not eating sweets, and flossing every other hour. If you consider yourself a relatively good brusher but have still been informed that you’ve got a cavity, there’s no need to panic! Treatment is easy and simple.

Now, before you run straight to the dentist and ask for the next appointment to get a dental filling treatment, understanding why and how cavities occur is essential to understanding why the dreaded black spots and spaces have been showing up and how you can prevent any more. Let’s jump right in!

Understanding how fillings work and where they work best

Before all else, why is it that getting a filling is the first response to dealing with cavities? First and foremost, we’ll have to understand how fillings work: 

A filling is a type of dental treatment that involves having a protective layer applied to any loose spots or cavities on your teeth to prevent further tooth decay. This reduces the discomfort you may feel from cold food or drink as well as lessens the likelihood of tooth discoloration. However, as time goes by and bad habits (such as improper brushing or not brushing at all) take place, food particles and plaque are left on the teeth for an extended duration of time to accumulate bacteria and toxins that dissolve the enamel on your teeth. After going through discolouration from white, to yellow, to brown, and then black, your teeth will eventually be filled with cavities if you leave them unaddressed. 

Alongside cavities, there’s another reason why getting a filling is absolutely important to keep your teeth healthy: tooth decay. If you have discolored areas in the valleys and grooves of your back teeth, dark or greyish to black areas on your front teeth, or food constantly lodged in the holes of your teeth, then it’s only a matter of time before your dentist declares that you’ve got tooth decay. This dental problem usually starts with a slight sensitivity to cold water and a certain level of sensitivity when eating sweets. Later, it grows to experience slight pain when biting or chewing until the pain eventually becomes unbearable. However, with the right treatment and filling process, you can stop the pain that you’ll experience with tooth decay.

The filling process

Depending on the state of your pearly whites, the fillings that your dentist will prescribe for your teeth will range from materials such as silver fillings to glass ionomer cements. In most cases, however, you’ll be treated with a composite material. During the application process, the composite material will start out as a soft, gum-like plastic that eventually chemically bonds with your teeth and hardens with the help of a UV light.

In terms of costs, the amount you’ll have to shell out for fillings will vary depending on the material used, the size of the filling, the amount of the remaining tooth structure, and your dentist’s skill and experience. These factors ultimately affect the quality of your filling as well.

Post-process care

After your filling, you can expect that your teeth will eventually look as good as new as long as you maintain them properly and follow a strict dental routine that is usually prescribed by your dentist. However, you may experience mild to moderate sensitivity while eating or chewing in the first 48 hours after the filling procedure. Depending on the mix of materials used, the quality of the procedure, and the skill of your dentist, your filling can last anything from three to seven years, assuming you take good care of it and avoid any accidents. 

In order to maintain your tooth fillings and keep them up to spec, you may have to visit your dentist monthly or quarterly to ensure that your fillings are being treated well and are being maintained for longevity.

Vitarelli Dental is a dental office based in Madison NJ, get in touch today to see how we can help you maintain a great set of teeth.

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