Teeth cavities occur when plaque accumulates on the teeth, wearing them off and causing pits or breaks on the teeth. When these breaks continue developing, you could get complications such as infections, sensitive teeth, and tooth loss. Dental fillings are a restorative procedure used to fill up these cracks or cavities to restore the functioning of your teeth. Ganji Dental takes pride in providing quality dental services, including dental fillings in Hawthorne, California. Our team is thorough and precise to ensure that you get the best dental fillings for your taste and functionality.
Overview of Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are materials used to fill up cracks or cavities in teeth to replace decayed material and restore the teeth to its usual shape. Dental fillings also play a preventative role as they keep teeth from continued decay and damage.
Dental fillings could also relieve you from the pain caused by dental cavities. Dental cavities or caries occur when bacteria on the teeth dig into the enamel. This action causes demineralization and disintegration of the tooth. When not corrected, the tooth will decay until it falls off.
Dentists apply fillings to correct such decay and cracks on the teeth. They can use either direct or indirect fillings.
Direct dental restorations are those that can be completed in a single visit. They are applied directly to the tooth.
Indirect dental restorations, however, require more than one visit to install. The dentist has to take an impression of your tooth then take it to the lab. The laboratory will create the filling, after which the dentist will affix it into your mouth. Resin and gold fillings are attached in an indirect restoration procedure.
Various materials are used as dental fillings. The choice depends on your tastes, the extent of tooth decay, and the cost of the materials.
Some of the common materials include:
Gold is one of the most durable and aesthetic dental fillings on the market. These fillings can last an average of 15 years with the right care. However, their longevity is still impressive. Gold fillings expand and contract with the temperature changes inside your mouth.
However, gold fillings are quite costly. You will also have to make at least two visits to your dentist to have them placed.
In rare cases, where gold and silver fillings occur together, you may experience sharp pain due to galvanic shock. They are also unappealing to people who hate colored teeth.
Amalgam or silver fillings are an alternative to gold fillings. They are made from a combination of materials such as copper, tin, silver, and mercury.
Silver fillings are cheaper than gold fillings and can last more than 10-15 years. These fillings take a shorter time to place.
They also harden with time, making them suitable for teeth in the back of the mouth. Although they take a shorter time to place and are affordable, silver fillings have several disadvantages, including:
- They might trigger allergic reactions in some users
- Silver fillings expand greatly, increasing the risks of cracks on the teeth. The filling itself could also crack, meaning you have to replace it.
- Silver fillings eventually give a grayish hue to the surrounding teeth
- The placement of these fillings requires extensive removal of healthy teeth tissue
- Silver fillings do not match the natural color of teeth
You might have concerns about the use of amalgam fillings due to the presence of mercury. However, amalgam fillings are FDA-approved due to lack of evidence to support health problems in patients. However, pregnant women and children below six years should not use them.
Silver fillings are not the best for small cavities due to the extensive removal of healthy tooth tissue. Also, removing these fillings before they are damaged, can lead to damage to teeth and the production of mercury, which could be harmful.
Dental composites are an ideal choice where you want to match your natural tooth color or for visible teeth in the front of the mouth. They are ideal for smaller cavities, due to their tendency to chip after a few years.
Composite resin consists of glass and acrylic. They bond to the tooth structure, which increases their support to the tooth. They require less removal of healthy teeth tissues compared to amalgam.
However, they are less durable with a lifespan of between three and ten years. They take a relatively long time to install compared to amalgam, and you might have to go for more than one dental visit. Composite fillings are also more expensive than silver fillings. These dental fillings are prone to staining with time.
Ceramic dental fillings mimic the color of your tooth. They feature durability similar to that of gold fillings. Their biggest advantage is their color and ability to blend with your teeth.
They are also healthy without the risk of chemical toxins. They offer additional strength to your teeth but are expensive to install.
You might need to wait a while for them to be constructed. However, once placed, you do not need another dentist's visit.
Glass ionomer fillings are made from acrylic fillings and other materials like glass. They are ideal for children and fillings that go under the gum. They also release fluoride, which provides additional protection from decay. They are less durable, with a lifespan of up to five years.
How to Choose the Best Dental Filling
You have to determine whether you need a dental filling treatment before choosing the best material for the procedure. The most common reasons for using dental fillings include:
- You have cavities on your teeth, regardless of their shapes and sizes
- To seal holes in your teeth which might accumulate food particles and bacteria leading to cavities
- To repair dental fractures
- To cover discolored teeth
- To restore teeth that have lost their structure
If you have one or more of these conditions, you will need to decide the best material for the dental filling. Having a variety of dental filling materials to choose from can be overwhelming. The options vary depending on the size of your cavity, your tastes and preferences, and their affordability. Even with these factors, making a decision can still be hard. Here are a few tips for choosing the best dental filling:
Your tastes and preferences: the material you choose for a filling should match your tastes. For example, if you would like fillings that blend in with your teeth, then composite and ceramic fillings are ideal
The size of the cavity will also determine the filling you should use. Composite fillings are not strong enough for large cavities and will wear off soon.
Ask your dentist to provide you with information about different fillings. He or she will inform you of their advantages, disadvantages, and costs. He or she can also examine the size of the cavity to recommend the most appropriate filling.
Any allergies you have: some people are allergic to certain materials such as silver. In that case, a silver filling would trigger allergic reactions in your body. Talk to your dentist about any allergies you might have.
Your budget: dental fillings differ in prices and quality. Gold and porcelain fillings are the most expensive, albeit durable. Determine the highest price range you can go for and choose the filling. You might want to compare prices across various dentists to find the best range for you. The price should not be the sole determinant for choosing a dental filling. If you can afford a better and durable one, go for the most durable one.
What to Expect During a Dental Filling Procedure
Knowing when to get a dental filling is important. You may need one if:
- You are experiencing tooth sensitivity
- Throbbing tooth pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to contact a dentist. The dentist will conduct several tests to check for the health of your mouth and teeth.
The first step will involve a visual examination. The dentist will examine the sensitive tooth for cracks, decay, discoloration, lesions, or rough patches on your teeth to identify cavities.
Next, he or she will poke and tap on your teeth to determine the severity and extent of the decay. The dentist will probe the exterior of the teeth to identify decayed areas on the top of your teeth.
Your dentist may also conduct an x-ray for an in-depth examination of your teeth. The x-ray will reveal the actual extent of the cavity and the right treatment for you. Depending on what the dentist finds, you may need a root canal or a dental filling.
Most people are anxious about dental checkups, even for a routine procedure. However, knowing what to expect can make you more prepared and involved. Here is what to expect during a dental filling procedure.
First, the dentist will numb the area. The dentist may use either a numbing gel, injection, or nitrogen oxide gas for the numbing.
If you are prone to anxiety, talk to your dentist to determine whether he or she could use sedation dentistry. In this process, he or she will give you medication to sedate you during the procedure.
After numbing the area, the dentist will prepare the tooth for filling. Preparation involves the removal of the decayed area. He or she will also clean the cavity to loosen debris and clear the tooth. The dentist will clean using water than a cleaning gel to ensure no decayed debris remains.
Cleaning the decayed area thoroughly ensures that the bacteria causing decay is not trapped inside the tooth.
Your dentist will then apply the filling. If the filling requires prior preparation, the dentist will take an impression of your tooth and send it to a lab.
For composite materials and amalgam, then the dentist will prepare the composite fillings and apply them directly to your tooth. When applying the filling, the dentist will ensure to seal all areas to ensure no debris and bacteria can enter the tooth.
The dentist will then polish the teeth to smooth rough edges. Polishing is crucial so that it feels natural in your mouth. The process of applying dental fillings does not require special care or recovery.
Caring For Dental Fillings
Dental fillings do not require special care of treatment once installed. You should maintain regular dental hygiene as you would for natural teeth. Here is how you can take care of your dental fillings:
- Bite lightly and chew slowly to avoid exerting a lot of pressure on the filling. Ideally, chew on the side without the filling. Applying light pressure when biting prevents dislodging the fillings.
- Chew with your mouth closed to prevent cold air from making contact with your teeth, which is important in preventing tooth sensitivity
- Avoid taking sticky foods that could dislodge the filling
- Avoid extremely hot or cold foods to prevent tooth sensitivity
- Avoid hard foods to prevent dislodging the filling
You should also develop a good oral hygiene routine for long-term care of your teeth and dental fillings. The routine could include:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Make sure you brush before going to bed to remove debris and plaque that has accumulated throughout the day. When brushing, use gentle circular motions to remove plaque effectively. Brush your tongue as well to remove plaque. Brush for at least two minutes. Ideally, use a toothpaste with fluoride to help you fight against tooth decay.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day
- Eat a balanced diet. Avoid sugary and starchy food as they provide optimum environments for bacteria in the mouth. If you have to eat sugary foods or snacks between meals, chew sugarless gum and rinse your mouth.
- Limit the use of tobacco products which increase the risks of oral health problems such as tooth discoloration
- Examine your mouth regularly to catch problems sooner. Identify changes such as discoloration, cracking, or chipping of teeth.
- Make regular visits to your dentist regularly
Problems and Complications of Dental Fillings
After the installation of dental fillings, you could experience certain problems and complications. These may require the removal of the filling, or other care practices to reduce the problem. The common complications include:
Tooth Pain and Sensitivity
A few days or weeks after the procedure, you might experience tooth sensitivity. However, this should resolve on its own. You will feel pain or discomfort on or around the filled tooth when:
- You consume cold foods or drinks
- You consume hot foods or drinks
- Air (especially cold air) entering the mouth
- Eating sugary food
- Taking acidic foods
- Biting down
Tooth sensitivity could also occur due to factors outside your control. These include:
- The nerve inside the tooth got irritated during the procedure. This is the most common cause of tooth sensitivity after a dental filling. The nerves might be irritated during the procedure, making them inflamed. As the inflammation subsides, so does the sensitivity.
- Incorrect bite alignment, which occurs when the filling does not match the size of other teeth could cause sensitivity. A filling that is higher than the other teeth will cause pain each time you bite down. You will have to have the filling trimmed, or you have trouble in chewing or putting your teeth together. If you experience a lot of sensitivity due to poor bite alignment, you should talk to a dentist.
- Pulpitis or inflammation of the pulp is a condition common in large cavities that reach the pulp. Such sensitivity could also occur if your tooth has experienced trauma or several fillings. The condition can be reversible or irreversible based on the health of the nerves. If the nerves are damaged, you will have to undergo a root canal. For reversible pulpitis, your dentist might install a new filing.
Sensitive teeth cause discomfort, especially when exposed to the common triggers. You can deal with it in several ways, including:
- Using a desensitizing toothpaste
- Using pain killers
- Applying a topical numbing cream for the mouth
- Using a toothbrush designed for sensitive teeth. These toothbrushes are softer meaning they do not irritate your teeth
- Be gentle to your teeth when brushing or flossing
- Do not whiten your teeth to reduce sensitivity
- Rinse your mouth after taking acidic beverages to protect your teeth
- Wait before brushing your teeth after taking an acidic food, to protect your enamel
In some cases, tooth sensitivity could be unrelated to the filling procedure, but be an indication of a more serious condition. Some of the causes would include:
A tooth abscess, which occurs when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected. You will notice additional symptoms, including serious toothache, redness on the gums, boil-like pimples, or bump on the gum and fever.
Gum disease leading to exposure of the root of the tooth. The root of the tooth lacks enamel, which makes it prone to sensitivity.
Most of the sensitivity from dental fillings will go away on its own in a few weeks. However, you should visit your dentist if the discomfort worsens; you have a toothache, a fever, or cannot eat.
Although allergic reactions are rare, they do happen to some people. If you have a family history of allergic reactions to metal, amalgam filling could trigger an allergic reaction in your body. The allergy usually appears as rashes on your skin. Some people might display signs of skin inflammation due to the fillings.
Composite fillings also cause allergic reactions, although the occurrence is sporadic. If the dentist confirms that the fillings are the source of the allergy, he or she will remove the filling and replace it with a more biocompatible one.
Allergic reactions develop immediately after the application of the filling or could begin afterward. The possibility exists that you could be allergic to different materials that are used for dental fillings. For example, you could be allergic to silver fillings as well as composite fillings. In such cases, the dentist might have to perform a blood compatibility test.
A blood compatibility test removes the guesswork from dental fillings. The dentist can identify the least reactive products that can be applied to your teeth.
You could also develop an allergic reaction from the anesthesia the dentist uses. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to anesthesia vary from mild to severe. Some of the symptoms include:
- Itchiness in the skin
- Inflammation of the face, lips or eyes
- A drop in your blood pressure
In severe, life-threatening cases, the symptoms include:
- Closure of airways leading to severe shortness of breath
- A severe drop in your blood pressure
- Respiratory failure
- Cardiac arrest
If you have had a previous allergic reaction to anesthesia, be sure to inform your dentist. He or she will also take your medical history to determine whether you are at risk.
If you have any concerns related to the same, talk to your dentist so he or she can look out for any allergic reaction.
The Weakening of Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are bound to wear off with time, depending on the material and your dental care routine. The main causes of deterioration of dental fillings include:
- Pressure from chewing, clenching or grinding
- Breaking down of the seal between the enamel and the filling, which results in food particles and bacteria penetrating beneath the filling. These bacteria and food debris will cause tooth decay and in some cases, an abscessed tooth.
- Improper preparation of the cavity leading to falling out of the filling
- Trauma to the tooth causing fractured or breaking off of the fillings
If your dental fillings have deteriorated, the dentist might have to replace the filling or use a dental crown.
Find a Dentist Near Me
Dental cavities can cause severe symptoms such as constant toothache. To deal with such problems, you might need a dental filling. Ganji Dental in Hawthorne, CA, specializes in different forms of restorative dentistry to restore the functionality of your teeth. We care about your dental health, which is why we conduct a thorough examination of your teeth to determine the most appropriate fillings. If you had your fillings placed, but are experiencing a complication, reach out to us for an examination. Call us today at 310-643-8045 for your dental problems.