Getting the news that your dentist found a cavity and that you require a dental filling is never good. If it’s your first one then you may be wondering what you should expect next.
During your appointment, at our St. Catharines / Thorold based office, your dentist will let you know where your cavity is and how severe it is. They can even show you an x-ray of the damaged area. If you are not experiencing any pain you can schedule an appointment when it’s a more convenient time. If you are experiencing pain, you’ll need to have it taken care of right away.
What is a dental filling?
A dental filling restores a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. It safeguards the tooth from any further decay and pain. The dentist will remove the decay, clean the tooth, and then fill the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. Filling in the space where bacteria can enter will help prevent further deterioration while stabilizing your tooth.
If decay, or a fracture, has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or a cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (the damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which helps keep the nerve alive).
There are many more choices of filling material available today than ever before. Your choices will depend on appearance, cost and function. At Pine Street Dental, we use the following materials for fillings:
- Gold fillings are sturdy and non-corrosive and can last up to 15 years. Many people like the look of gold fillings, but they will cost more.
- Amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals including silver, copper, tin and mercury. These fillings are strong, durable, and inexpensive.
- Composite fillings are made of a tooth-coloured mixture of glass and resin. This composite can be matched to the colour of your teeth, but they are not as durable as metal and may need to be replaced much more frequently.
During your appointment
Your dentist will use either a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth to be filled, or you can opt in for sedation dentistry . After the area has been numbed, the dentist will then use a tool to remove the decay. This process may take some time depending on how big the cavity is. No worries. You won’t feel a thing. Once the decay has been removed, your dentist will prepare a space for the filling by cleaning the cavity thoroughly.
After cleaning, your dentist will fill the cavity with the material previously chosen. Once the cavity has been filled, your dentist will polish the filling to finish the restoration. If your tooth requires a tooth-coloured filling, the process may take a little longer. Your dentist will apply the composite material in layers and then shape the material to a desired result.
When the filling is in place, your dentist will clean and polish it and send you on your way.
After your appointment
Your lips and gum area may be numb for the first few hours. Always chew food carefully and avoid chewing on the part of your mouth where the dental filling is located in case you end up biting your cheek. Tooth sensitivity is normal during the first few weeks after a filling, however, you might also want to avoid triggers, such as extremely hot or cold foods. If the sensitivity persists after a few weeks, contact your dentist. And if you feel pain in the tooth when biting, see your dentist as soon as possible. You may need to have the filling reshaped.
Make sure after you’ve received a filling that you take good care of it. Follow a regular oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Be sure to see your dentist for regular checkups. You may not notice when your filling starts to wear down, but your dentist will be able to check this during your next appointment. If your filling breaks or falls out, see your dentist immediately so it can be repaired or replaced.
If you have any further questions about dental fillings, please give us a call today!