FAQ: All About Fillings

If it feels like every time you go to the dentist you’re told you need another filling, you’re not alone. Cavities are the most common ailment second only to the common cold. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent cavities, and fillings are a simple procedure that protect your teeth from further damage.

Learn more about fillings with Dr. Pamela Cain, a dentist in Knoxville, TN.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

Fillings are necessary when a cavity develops. A cavity is a hole in the tooth created by the bacteria that feed off of the mucus, food particles, and other compounds in our mouths. These bacteria create acids that erode tooth enamel, causing small holes called cavities.

Cavities need to be treated because they expose the insides of the teeth to more bacteria, which can infect the tissues inside and cause tooth decay. Dentists remove the infected tissue and fill cavities with biocompatible materials — hence the name “filling.”

How Do You Recognize Decay?

  • Dark spots or gray-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. You can also sometimes feel cavities:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold things
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Tingling or electric sensation when eating particularly sweet food
  • Dull or sharp pain in the mouth that does not go away on its own

What Are Fillings Made Of?

The most widely used substance is plastic composite, a kind of tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens while chemically bonding to your teeth when cured with a UV light.

What Should I Expect After A Filling?

A composite filling hardened with a UV light does not require any down time, and you can return immediately to your daily activities. Your tooth is as good as new and the filling will be invisible. Some patients experience some mild sensitivity in the filled tooth, which normally subsides after 48 hours, but you can return to eating, drinking, and speaking normally right after treatment.

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Your at-home oral hygiene regimen ultimately plays a large part in preventing cavities. Dentists can perform preventive measures such as sealants or fluoride treatments, but your oral hygiene will determine your risk of cavities. Brushing twice a day and flossing every day are the keys to preventing cavities and tooth decay.

How Long Will My Filling Last?

Fillings may not last forever. Keeping regular appointments with your dentist and annual X-rays will help you and your dentist maintain the health of your filling. If you see any darkening or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist to avoid the filling coming out and subjecting your teeth to further decay.

Visit Dr. Cain at Today’s Dentistry in Knoxville, TN to stay on top of your oral health. Schedule an appointment online today or call our office at (865) 219-3622.