Visiting your dental office for a bi-annual visit can include a number of services at your appointment. Your dentist will perform an x-ray typically once a year or every other visit, do a dental cleaning, and most importantly do an exam. The exam can reveal problems with your teeth and gums, and the most common being cavities. A cavity in a tooth can be problematic for many reasons. Cavities essentially are tooth decay and will get worse over time which will jeopardize not only the health of the tooth that has a cavity but those surrounding teeth as well. A cavity filling is a top solution to correcting the issue.
Can Cavities Cause Teeth Pain?
Some individuals can go years with a cavity and not have any symptoms. While others can develop enormous amounts of tooth sensitivity or have a toothache pain. Often the degree in which a person feels pain from a cavity is a direct relation to how bad and how deep the cavity is. For instance, once tooth decay has reached the inside of the tooth where the root is located, this usually is when a person may have some discomfort. An exposed tooth root has more significant potential to become infected, which makes the tooth and surrounding area extremely sensitive and can result in a higher level of pain. Before a cavity can be filled, if an infection is present, it will need to be taken care of with either antibiotics or a root canal, depending on the circumstances.
What Are Cavity Fillings Made From?
Depending on your dentist’s preference or what they have available at their dental office, fillings can be made out of several types of materials. The most common options available are amalgam silver and resin composites. Each type of filling has its own sets of pros and cons, and some in many cases the choice can be up to the patient.
Amalgam Filings- These are widely used throughout the dental field and are made of several metallic compounds. Amalgam fillings have been used for centuries and are known as one of the most durable options for cavity correction. The upside of these is cost. Amalgam is the cheapest solution for fillings available today.
Ceramic FIllings- Ceramic, usually made of porcelain, is a tooth-colored material that is the most natural looking option available for fillings. While initially, they may look the best, they won’t show the same discolorations as your natural teeth over time. Appearance aside, ceramic fillings can sometimes cost just as much as metal fillings but have less durability.
Silver and Gold Fillings- Silver has been long used in the dental industry as the choice for fillings because of its durability. However, many people don’t like the appearance of a silver or gold filling and prefer the more natural look of a resin composite that can blend better with the tooth. While the appearance may not be the highlight for these fillings, their durability and lifespan are. Metal fillings will last anywhere from 10-15 years without issues. The cost of metal does play a factor. However, gold fillings can cost ten times more than amalgam fillings.
Composite Fillings- Made from glass and quartz, composite fillings are the most natural looking option available. While they may look natural, matching the color of your natural tooth, they aren’t as durable and are suitable for moderate chewing behavior, ideally not placed in the molars.
How Are Cavities Filled?
If your dentist does find a cavity during the examination, filling it is the only option to stop it from getting worse. Cavities can start out small but will quickly grow to consume the entire tooth, which could lead to breakage or the possibility of extraction. Cavity fillings work as a conservative dental option that allows patients to preserve their natural tooth.
The first step your dentist will take for filling the cavity is to numb the area. A local anesthetic is used in the gum line, teeth, and any nearby skin so that the patient will be more comfortable. He or she will then drill or remove the section of the tooth that has decayed, thereby preventing the rot from continuing. Your dentist will then use the desired material to fill in the crevice, sealing off any opening on the tooth’s surface.
Are There Special Care Instructions After A Cavity Filling?
The area filled may be tender or slightly uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be painful following the procedure. Your dentist may recommend the use of an over the counter pain reliever after but usually, the anesthetic will keep the area numb for an hour or two. Caring for your filling is no different than how you care for your teeth currently. You should continue with good dental practices at home including brushing and flossing. But other than that, they are relatively maintenance free. You should see your dentist regularly so he or she can evaluate the filling, ensuring it is still appropriately placed and hasn’t become loose or fallen out.
How to Stop Tooth Pain
A cavity, when it becomes infected, may require emergency dental to stop the persistent pain. There are a few ways to curb tooth pain, while you wait to be seen by your dentist including over the counter pain relievers and an anesthetic like Oragel. Your dentist will check the status of your filling to make sure it is still placed properly and assess whether or not the pain is the result of an infection.
When To Replace A Cavity Filling
The length of time a filling will last dramatically depends on your chewing habits and what material was chosen for the cavity filling. While a metal filling may continue up to 15 years without worry, things, like grinding your teeth or eating overly chewy food, may make them fail sooner than expected. You may notice that cracks form around the filling, and this is the time to visit your dentist to have the filling removed and replaced. It is recommended that you see your dentist twice a year so that he may note any changes that occur.