When do You Need a Filling
Steps to a Filling
When you visit your dentist to get a filling, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area if necessary. Next, your dentist will remove decay from the tooth, using hand instruments or a drill. Air abrasion and lasers also can be used to remove decay.
Once all the decay is removed, your dentist will shape the space to prepare it for the filling.
Different types of fillings require different shaping procedures to make sure they will stay in place.
Your dentist may put in a base or a liner to protect the tooth's pulp(where the nerves are). The base or liner can be made of composite resin, glass ionomer, zinc oxide and eugenol, or another material. Some of these materials release fluoride to protect the tooth from further decay. If your dentist is placing a bonded filling, he or she will etch (prepare) the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
Etching makes tiny holes in the tooth's enamel surface. This allows the filling to bond tightly to the tooth. Bonded fillings can reduce the risk of leakage or decay under the filling.
That's because the etched surface of the tooth and the filling material form a mechanical bond. Bonding is generally done with composite fillings. Certain types of fillings get hardened by a special light. With these fillings, your dentist will stop several times to shine a bright light on the resin. This cures (hardens) the material and makes it strong. Finally, after the filling is placed, your dentist will use burs to finish and polish the tooth.
After a Filling
Some people feel sensitivity after they receive a filling. The tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods or cold.
Composite fillings often cause sensitivity, but other types of filling materials can too. In most cases, the sensitivity will subside over one to two weeks. Until then, try to avoid anything that causes it. If your tooth is extremely sensitive or your sensitivity does not decrease after two weeks, contact your dentist's office.
It's important to let your dentist know about any sensitivity you are feeling. The next time you need a filling, he or she may be able to use a different material and make changes to reduce sensitivity. People vary in their response to different materials. Your dentist has no way of predicting if your tooth will react to a particular material.
When you talk to your dentist about the sensitivity, try to describe it as precisely as possible. This information will help decide what should be done next. Your dentist may take out the filling and put in a new one. He or she may add a base, liner or desensitizing agent on the tooth as well. If the filling was very deep, you could need a root canal treatment to solve the problem.
> The first type occurs when you bite, and worsens over time. This is caused by a filling that is too high and interferes with your bite. Once your anesthetic wears off, you would notice this right away. Contact your dentist. You will need to return to the office to have the filling reshaped.
> The second type of discomfort is a very sharp shock that appears only when your teeth touch. This is called galvanic shock. It is caused by two metals (one in the newly filled tooth and one in the tooth it's touching) producing an electric current in your mouth. This would happen, for example, if you had a new amalgam filling in a bottom tooth and had a gold crown in the tooth above it.
Your dentist polishes the filling after it is placed, but occasionally sharp edges may remain. You can't detect this at first because of the anesthesia. If you find one, contact your dentist and arrange to have it smoothed as soon as possible to avoid injury to your tongue or mouth.
You may receive a temporary filling (usually white, off-white or gray) if:
A temporary filling may make your tooth feel better. This is because the filling seals the tooth, protecting the pulp from bacteria and reducing sensitivity.
Temporary fillings often contain eugenol, an ingredient in over-the-counter toothache remedies. Eugenol is also a component of oil of cloves, which people use for toothache pain.
Temporary fillings are not meant to last. Usually, they fall out, fracture or wear out within a month or two. If you get a temporary filling, make sure you visit your dentist to get a permanent one. If you don't, your tooth could become infected or you could have other problems.
Fillings don't last forever. They can become discolored. Composite, tooth-colored fillings pick up stains, and yellow or darken over time. When you chew, your teeth and any fillings in them are subjected to tremendous pressures. Even if no other problems develop, some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it falls out, leaks or cracks.
Food debris and bacteria can seep down under a filling that is cracked or leaking. Since you can't clean there, the bacteria feed on the food debris and form the acid that causes tooth decay. Decay under a filling can become extensive before you notice it or it causes you pain. This is why you should have your fillings checked regularly and get them replaced when problems are found.
Fillings can fall out for several reasons:
Both amalgam and composite fillings can crack, either soon after they are placed or after the fillings have been in place for some time.
Cracks can occur soon after a filling is placed if the filling is higher than the rest of the tooth surface, and must bear most of the force of biting. Cracks also can occur over time, as the forces from chewing and biting affect the filling.
Small cracks also can occur at the edges of a filling. These usually are caused by wear over time. These cracks often can be repaired.
A filling is said to be leaking when the side of the filling doesn't fit tightly against the tooth. Debris and saliva can seep down between the filling and the tooth. This can lead to decay, discoloration or sensitivity.
Both amalgam and composite fillings can leak. An amalgam filling sometimes leaks slightly after it is placed. You would notice this as sensitivity to cold. This sensitivity decreases for the next two to three weeks. Then it disappears altogether. Over that period, the amalgam filling naturally corrodes. The corrosion seals the edges of the filling and stops any leaks.
A composite filling could be contaminated with saliva. This would weaken the bond between the filling and the tooth and allow for leaks. Other times, there may be small gaps where the tooth and filling meet. These gaps are caused by shrinkage when your dentist places the filling. Sensitivity after receiving a composite filling may disappear over time. If it doesn't, the filling may need to be replaced.
Fillings also can leak as a result of wear over time. These fillings should be replaced.
Some fillings can last for 15 years or longer. Others, however, will have to be replaced in as little as five years. Your dentist can determine if your fillings are worn enough that they need to be replaced.
What is a Filling?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.
By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
Which Type of Filling is Best?
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: throughroot canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).
Pit and Fissure Sealants
What are pit and fissure sealants?
How does the pit and fissure sealants work?
For how long do the sealants last?
How are sealants placed?
Which are the teeth that are usually sealed?
After sealant placement does the child have to brush regularly?