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Understanding Tooth Cavity Fillings

annapolis md dentist fillingsAre you worried your dentist is going to tell you that you need a filling? Tooth cavity fillings are one of the most frequently performed dental treatments. Almost everyone has needed one at some point. Dentists like the skilled professionals at Lee, Bonfiglio, Vesely & Associates of Annapolis, MD want you to know the warning signs that you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling and how to care for them once you have one.

Why Do You Need A Tooth Cavity Filling?

When food particles and plaque are allowed to remain in contact on your teeth for extended periods of time due to improper brushing or because the food is sticky, then a collection of bacteria will accumulate. These bacteria release acids which begin to dissolve the enamel. This enamel — the top layer of the tooth — begins to discolor gradually depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened. If allowed to continue, that portion of the tooth will eventually chip away and become what we call a “cavity” — a hole 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 goes 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 transient 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 it continues untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity to certain foods and constant pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam and later were done with cements like glass ionomer. But now the most widely used substance is plastic composite, a kind of tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but hardens while chemically bonding to your teeth when cured with a UV light.

How Much Will It Cost?

Costs of fillings can vary widely depending 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 when done with composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no precautions. 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 Tooth Cavity Filling Last?

Despite being made from strong artificial materials, fillings do not last forever. A filling can last anywhere from 3-7 years on average but needs regular annual examinations to ensure it’s holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule to see your dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.

If you are in the Annapolis, MD area and would like a consultation with a Lee, Bonfiglio, Vesely & Associates dentist about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call (410) 989-8298 or schedule online today!

Articles by: Lee, Bonfiglio, Vesely & Associates


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