Visiting the dentist is very important to prevent tooth decay and the inevitable problems that having cavities brings. But if you do get a cavity, dentists provide the restorative care you need. This care is typically a dental filling, one of the most common procedures of dentistry today.
What is a dental filling?
Fillings are a method of restoring a damaged tooth back to a healthy state and strength. Made of composite resin, amalgam alloy, porcelain or gold, this material patches a hole or crack in a tooth, such as the damage caused by decay.
These restorations start with your dentist cleaning the affected area on the tooth, then sealing off the cavity space. This restores normal function while preventing additional decay and protecting the root.
There are a variety of materials used to fill teeth. Your options include:
- Gold, an expensive filling made in a dental lab and cemented in place with a life expectancy of about 20 years
- Amalgam, relatively inexpensive but highly visible material primarily used to fill molars or premolars
- Composite resin, a tooth-coloured material that proves durable but vulnerable to staining
- Porcelain, tooth-coloured lab crafted inlays or onlays cemented to your tooth and resistant to staining
Most dentists today use composite resin for the majority of their patients’ fillings. But you have other options to choose from if your dentist believes the material appropriate for proper functioning and decay prevention. The ideal choice depends on which tooth is decayed, as well as the nature of the damage. When making recommendations from the above list, your dentist bases them on your goals, allergies to specific materials and budget.
More Basics About Fillings
In the course of restorative dentistry, you have access to anesthetics that numb your oral tissues and block pain-transmitting nerves. You should not feel pain as part of your procedure. If you do, simply let your dentist know. They will provide additional anesthetic to prevent discomfort.
In their earliest development stages, cavities are not always visible to the naked eye. You should visit your dentist every six months or as recommended for routine exams and checkups. During these visits, your dentist also conducts X-rays to find and diagnose oral health problems. Using these imaging studies and during your exam, they see cavities and restore the damage to prevent progression. A filling returns a decayed tooth to a naturally healthy-looking appearance and returns it to normal functioning.
How do I know if I need a filling?
Visiting your dentist is the best way to know whether you need a filling. Through a thorough exam and dental X-rays, cavities can be found early for restorative treatment.
Other signs you have a cavity include:
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Visible dark spots or discoloration
- Craters or holes on teeth
- Bad breath or foul taste
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling or bleeding gums
Visit your dentist’s office today to check your oral health and prevent cavities from occurring in the first place.
Other Services Your Dentist Provides
Your dentist provides a range of other services besides cavity fillings. Some of these services include:
- Crowns, inlays and onlays
- Preventive care and X-rays
- Cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening
- Partial or full dentures
- Family dental care
- Pediatric dental care
- Teeth straightening
When visiting your dentist’s office, talk to the dental professional openly about your smile goals. These can include a healthier bite, straighter teeth, better sleep, smoking cessation or a brighter smile. With proper dental care, you can leave every visit to your dentist’s office feeling more confident in your smile.