Tooth decay is a common dental complication, and the cavities resulting from this condition become an entryway for bacteria that causes infections. When a cavity is left untreated, it can result in serious oral health complications like a dental abscess or severe gum disease. A dental filling helps in the treatment of tooth decay. The filling allows the tooth to return to normal function and reduces the risk of dental infection and pain.

There exist different types of dental filling materials you can opt for depending on the tooth you want to fill, your aesthetic preference, and your budget. A dental filling is a quick and pain-free procedure that helps relieve minor tooth damage from decay. However, when the filling is not done correctly, it can present an array of side effects, including pain, sensitivity, and infection. Therefore, seeking the services of an experienced general dentist is crucial. At The Whittier Dentist, we will provide you with specialized care to fill your tooth cavities and restore your oral health. We serve clients requiring dental health treatment services in Whittier, CA.

What are Dental Fillings?

A dental filling is a restorative dental treatment procedure used to repair minor tooth fractures or decay. Additionally, a dental filling can help even the tooth’s surface and improve the jaw function for chewing and biting. Tooth decay and cavities increase tooth sensitivity which could be improved by filling.

Several materials are available for a dental filling, including:

Gold fillings

The material used for gold fillings is an alloy of gold, copper and other metals. Some of the advantages of gold fillings include their durability. A gold filling does not corrode and can serve you for fifteen years. This type of dental filling is strong enough to withstand the chewing forces thus has a low susceptibility to damage. Some patients find gold fillings more pleasant compared to other types of fillings.

However, the process of fitting your teeth with gold fillings will take more than one visit to the dentist. A gold filling next to an amalgam could cause sharp pain from galvanic shock. Another setback of the old fillings is their high cost, up to ten times more than you could pay for a silver amalgam filling.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are made with a combination of tin, silver, copper, and zinc. These silver fillings last for up to fifteen years and are far less expensive than composite and gold fillings. However, the downside of the silver filling is that it does not match the natural color of the teeth, which is not aesthetically appealing. Additionally, enamel destroys more since a large part of the tooth will need to be removed for fitting the silver fillings.

While teeth expand and contract with drastic temperature changes, amalgam has a higher degree of expansion, increasing the risk of tooth fracture and cracks. Amalgam fillings may not be the right choice if you have a history of allergies or other severe health conditions. This is because the mercury in the amalgam fillings could cause allergic reactions.

Composite Fillings

Composite or tooth-colored fillings are made of plastic r glass materials that resemble the natural tooth. Composite tooth filling offers a wide range of benefits. This type of filling mimics the color of your natural teeth, making it aesthetically appealing. Often the composite fillings are preferable when fixing your front teeth. Additionally, there is a tooth sparing effect with this filling. This is because less preparation and reduction of the tooth enamel is required. In addition, to fill cavities in tooth decay, composite fillings can repair broken or damaged teeth.

The downside to the composite fillings is that they are not durable and can only serve you for up to five years. Additionally, these fillings do not do well under pressure and may be prone to damage over time. If the composite material is used for indirect dental fillings, you must make several trips to the dentist.

Ceramic Fillings

The ceramic fillings are often made from porcelain and match your tooth color. Porcelain is aesthetically pleasing and is resistant to discoloration or staining. Ceramic fillings can serve you for up to fifteen years before needing replacement. However, the fillings are expensive and often cost as much as gold fillings.

Steps Involved in a Dental Filling Procedure

Placement of dental fillings is an in-house procedure that takes a single appointment. If the level of tooth decay on the tooth requiring filling is extensive, the dentist could apply anesthesia. If you need to prepare for the procedure, your dentist will inform you of what is required.

Before the filling procedure, the dentist will inspect your teeth to determine in the filling is the right form of treatment for your dental problem. Dental fillings are used to treat minor decay and fractures. By checking out the problematic areas on the tooth, the dentist can correct them before the filling. If the location or severity of the tooth decay is not apparent, an X-ray could be necessary.

With the variety of materials used for a dental filling, you can choose what you want based on your aesthetic needs, medical history, and budget for the procedure. The steps involved in the dental filling procedure include:

  • Application of anesthesia. The first step in the filling procedure is the application of anesthesia which begins will the application of a numbing gel and then injecting the anesthesia to the gums. The aim of numbing your gums is to increase comfort through the procedure.
  • Removal of the decayed tooth part. The second stage of a dental filling procedure is removing decayed parts of the tooth by drilling and using other specialized equipment. The dentist can then use an acidic gel to remove debris and bacteria from the cavity.
  • Fill the tooth cavity. Once the tooth is free of any form of decay or bacteria, the dentist fills the cavity with the material of your choice.
  • Polishing the filling. The final step in restoring your teeth with a dental filling is polishing the filling and adjusting the bite to feel normal. Sharp edges after a tooth feeling could be very uncomfortable. Therefore, before leaving the dentist’s office, you must ensure that the filling feels right.

Complications Associated with Dental Fillings

A tooth feeling is a great and affordable way to restore the outlook and function damaged from decay. During the tooth filling procedure, your dentist will remove the decayed part of the tooth, clean it and fill it with a filling material of your choice. However, it is essential to understand that some complications could arise with the fillings, including:

Pain and Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity following a dental filling procedure is common. Your tooth could be sensitive to temperature changes, pressure, or sweet foods. While sensitivity from a dental filling is expected to subside with time, there are some cases where it becomes worse or results in a series of pain on the area around the filling. The following are some explanations for pain following a dental filling procedure:

  • Cold or hot drinks. Pain resulting from extreme temperatures around the dental filling is sharp and occurs when you take a hot or cold drink. While this type of pain goes away when you remove the hot or cold drink from the area, the persistence of the pain may indicate nerve damage, and you should consult your dentist.
  • Pain when you bite. You can experience this type of pain after anesthesia from the procedure wears off. If you feel pain when you bite down or touch your teeth together, you may need to have the filling reshaped or undergo a root canal.
  • Constant throbbing pain. If tooth decay y was deep into the pulp, a dental filling might not fix the pain issue. Throbbing pain after a dental filling may indicate that the tooth was severely infected and the pulp tissues are not healthy.
  • Referred pain. Referred pain is pain and sensitivity originating from other teeth besides the filling. In such a case, there may be nothing wrong with your tooth, and it could be just passing pain sensations from other teeth. Either way, your dentist should check out the pain that has persisted in the past two weeks.

Allergic Reactions to Amalgam

While the allergic reactions from silver fillings are rare, the mercury used for the restorations could trigger an allergic response. Some of the symptoms associated with allergic reactions from amalgam fillings include itching and skin rashes. Recently, the Food and Drugs Association issued updated recommendations on amalgam fillings of n a specific group of individuals. People who are at a greater risk of severe health effects from the mercury in amalgam include:

  • Pregnant women and their unborn children
  • Nursing women and their breastfeeding babies
  • Children under six years
  • Women planning to become pregnant
  • Individuals with kidney function complications
  • People with neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals with a history of allergies from mercury exposure

If you fit in the categories above, you can opt for filling made from other materials like gold, glass, or porcelain. If you already have a healthy amalgam filling, removing it would increase the mercury exposure. Therefore, the FDA recommends that the filling remain until it is time for removal or replacement.

Deteriorating Fillings

Constant pressure from chewing or teeth grinding could cause the dental fillings to crack, chip, or wear away. You may not be able to tell when your fillings deteriorate. Therefore, it is crucial to go for regular dental check-ups. When the fillings crack or chip, the seal between the filling material and your enamel will break down. This will allow food particles to enter the tooth and cause decay that can move up to the filling. Tooth decay that is left untreated can progress to gum inflammation and dental abscess.

If the tooth decay is extensive and recurrent, it could damage the tooth structure, and nothing will be left to support the filling. In this case, you may need to have the tooth extracted or salvage the tooth with a dental crown. Sometimes, new dental fillings could fall out even without decay. This could be a fracture reaction from the bite or poor cavity preparation before the filling procedure.

Dental Fillings Aftercare Tips

Not many individuals in California will go through childhood and adulthood without dealing with the aftermath of tooth decay. Fortunately, a dental filling can treat the cavities caused by decay and restore the normal outlook and function of the tooth. Although tooth filling is a simple and pain-free procedure, the way you care for your dental health after the filling procedure is crucial. Caring for your teeth after dental filling allows you to enjoy effective and long-lasting results from the procedure. You can consider the following oral health care tips if you have just undergone the filling procedure:

Be Gentle on your Teeth Until the Numbness Goes Away

Your dentist will apply local anesthesia before proceeding with a dental filling. Eating while your mouth is still numb could be uncomfortable. Since you may not feel pain at the numb part of your teeth, it is important to be very careful. This will help avoid injuries to your lips, gums, or teeth. Although the anesthesia takes several hours to wear off, it would be best if you waited for the numbness to end before you eat.

Be Cautious when Biting on Foods

When you are ready to eat after a dental filling procedure, ensure that your bite carefully, especially when using the tooth with a new filling. Not all types of fillings will be fully set shortly after the procedure. If you want to bite on hard foods, you should do it slowly and with a side that does not have new fillings.

Biting hard foods with the new filling could result in sensitivity and discomfort of the filled and surrounding teeth. While this symptom may be common and normal, talking to a dentist about your concerns would be wise.

Establish an Oral Health Care Routine

By establishing a dental care routine, you can protect your dental fillings and teeth from future cavities. This involves brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly. This helps remove the leftover food particles that attract bacteria and cause tooth decay. Additionally, you can swish your mouth with some mouthwash to discourage the growth of bacteria.

Another element of ensuring that you protect your teeth is watching your diet. You will need to avoid sugary and acidic snacks. For starchy foods that you cannot eliminate from your diet, you should rinse your mouth with plenty of water after consuming them.

Avoid Chewing on Ice

Chewing on ice could seem like a completely harmless habit. However, the habit could be detrimental to your teeth and dental procedures like fillings. The pressure applied by the ice on your teeth could cause cracks in the enamel and cause a detachment between the enamel and the filling. Chewing on ice with new fillings that have not settled on the tooth could cause them to fall off.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking is a dangerous habit for your dental and overall health. While part of your mouth is numb from the anesthesia used in the tooth filling procedure, you should avoid smoking. Smoking could not only cause burns to your mouth but also increase the susceptibility to infection. Smoking could weaken your immune system and affect your body’s ability to fight infections.

Seek Remedy for Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is the involuntary gnashing or clenching of teeth during sleep. The grind of your teeth can cause various oral health complications like cracked teeth, chipped enamel, and tooth loss. Additionally, the habit can cause damage to tooth restorations like filling. Grinding too hard on the filled tooth could cause damage to the filling, and eventually, the material could fall off.

If you suspect that you grind your teeth in your sleep, you need to consult with your dentist. The dentist will recommend remedies like wearing a mouth guard, medications, or bite adjustments.

Make Regular Dental Visits

Regardless of the type of dental procedures you have undergone, regular dental visits should be part of your oral health care routine. You may not notice that your fillings are damaged or worn out in most cases. However, by making at least two dental visits per year, your dentist can detect signs of damage and recommend the right course of action.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dental Fillings

A dental filling is a common treatment option for dental cavities among Americans. If you are considering dental fillings for your cavities, you need to understand what it entails to ensure you make an informed decision. The following are some frequently asked questions about the tooth fillings:

     1. What are indirect fillings?

Indirect fillings are dental fills that resemble composite fillings. However, the indirect fillings are manufactured in the laboratory and require two dental visits to complete the procedure. Your dentist often recommends an indirect tooth filling when your tooth enamel is damaged, and there is minimal structure left to support the filling. 

In your initial dental visit for an indirect filling, your dentist will remove the old filling or the decayed part of your tooth. An impression of the tooth will be taken to determine the size and shape of the part that requires repair. The dentist sends the impression to a dental lab where the filling is made.

The dentist will remove the temporary filling in the second appointment and fit the filling. The two types of indirect fillings are:

  • Inlays. Inlays are similar to the normal fillings, but they focus more on the tooth’s chewing surface.
  • Onlays. These are more extensive types of fillings and cover more than one cusps.

Indirect fillings for up to thirty years are significantly longer than normal ones. Although the Onlays and Inlays can weaken the enamel, the level of damage is lower than the traditional fillings.

     2. Why would I need a temporary filling?

Your dentist will fit your tooth with a temporary filling to protect the tooth while preparing for a permanent solution. Often, temporary fillings will fracture or fall out within a month. You may need temporary fillings under the following circumstances:

  • Following a root canal procedure
  • If your tooth filling procedure requires more than one appointment
  • To allow your tooth nerves to settle down after an invasive procedure
  • When dental emergencies are required

     3. Why would a dental feeling need replacement?

There are several reasons why you would need to replace your dental fillings, including:

  • Normal wear or tear. Tooth fillings are not meant to last a lifetime. Pressure from grinding and chewing could cause the fillings to wear naturally. Although it is challenging to notice the wear or tear on the fillings, your dentist could identify weaknesses in the filling during your regular check-ups.
  • Large fillings or decay. If the tooth decay is consistent and extensive, it could wear if the enamel leaves no structure to support the filling. If repair of the filling is not possible in your case, your dentist could recommend a dental crown for the affected tooth.
  • Filling fails. The purpose of a dental filling is to seal the cavities in the tooth to avoid further damage. If there is a crack on the filling and bacteria enters the tooth, an infection could develop and damage both the tooth and the filling. This increases your risk of further decay and other serious complications like gum disease or a dental abscess.

Find a Skilled General Dentist Near Me

Your oral health is an important aspect of your overall health and wellbeing. Dental cavities, tooth chipping, and cracking may not only be painful but can also compromise the normal function of your teeth. With advancements in technology in dentistry, there is a wide range of procedures that can help to correct these flaws, one of which is dental fillings. Dental fillings are a single or combination of gold, metals, glass, plastic, or other materials used to repair broken or damaged teeth.

You will not trust just anyone to perform dental procedures due to the sensitive nature of their outcomes. Therefore, seeking the services of a knowledgeable general dentist is vital. At The Whittier Dentist, we provide safe and efficient dental filling services to help you restore the integrity of your oral health. Contact us today at 562-632-1223  if you need a dental filling or any other dental procedure in Whittier, CA.