Do you feel like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Brent Engelberg of AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL want you to understand the need for dental fillings, the warning signs that indicate you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling and how to care for them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When food particles and plaque are allowed to collect on your teeth due to improper brushing or because the food is sticky, then bacteria begin to accumulate. These bacteria release digestive acids which begin to eat away at your enamel — the outer layer of the tooth. When this happens, the tooth enamel begins to become discolored gradually depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually break away and create a hole — what dentists call a “cavity” — in your tooth’s enamel.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark spots or greyish black areas on your front teeth
- Chipped off areas that your tongue often finds its way into
- Holes where food gets stuck
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
What Does Decay Feel Like?
It can begin with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or passing sensitivity when eating sweet food. It usually progresses to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things, and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if not treated, you may feel an electric sensation and constant pain when eating that persists for hours and needs medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
Fillings were once almost always made from silver amalgam but later dentists mostly switched to cements. Modern dentists prefer a plastic resin composite, a kind of tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens, chemically bonding to your teeth, when exposed to a UV lamp.
How Much Will It Cost?
Costs of fillings can vary widely on:
- The material being used by the dentist
- Skill and experience of the dentist
- The size of the filling
- Amount of remaining tooth structure
What Should I Expect After A Filling?
A permanent filling done with composite should allow you to eat immediately afterwards with no concerns. At that point, your tooth is as good as new and you should be unable to see where the filing was done. You may feel some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should subside within 48 hours. It may take some time and wear to adjust if the filling is slightly over or under the level of your bite.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Decay or cavities can be prevented by preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth or applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid. Once done, fillings can be maintained by proper oral hygiene at home including daily brushing, mouthwash and flossing.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Contrary to popular belief, fillings do not last forever. A good composite filling can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but needs daily oral hygiene and routine dental examinations to make certain it’s holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule an appointment to see your dentist immediately. These signs indicate a breakdown of the filling and the need for replacement.
If you are in the Arlington Heights, IL area and would like a consultation with Dr. Engelberg at AH Smiles about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (847) 230-9703 or schedule online today!