Fillings are how dentists replace missing tooth structure caused by dental decay or cavities. With advances in technology, we can now place white composite fillings that look and feel natural so you can smile with confidence. Fillings can be done in one visit and can help prevent further breakdown of a tooth before it needs a root canal or an extraction.
Tooth decay, or a “cavity,” is what causes a tooth to need a filling. More specifically, cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth that eat on the same foods that you do. When you eat foods containing processed carbohydrates or sugars, the bacteria in your mouth love to feast on them as well. After they metabolize the sugars, they release acid that eats away at healthy tooth structure and causes holes. These bacteria hide out in the grooves of our teeth, or in between the teeth, and this is the reason we recommend you brush and floss them away every day!
When there is a hole in a tooth, you have to seek out a dental professional who can help you repair that hole. These holes can be detected with x-rays and a clinical exam.
Once it is determined that a cavity is present, Dr. Spillers will recommend either a filling or a crown depending on the size of the hole. If a filling is needed, the area will be numbed first. Then the decayed area will be removed and filled with a white composite filing material. This filling will seal the area and prevent bacteria and food from causing further breakdown.
Depending on the number of fillings to be done, your appointment will be between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Dr. Spillers will first numb the area so the procedure will be as comfortable as possible for you. He will then remove any diseased tooth structure that has been destroyed by the bacteria. The tooth will then be isolated and a dental adhesive will be placed. This adhesive will help create the bond between your tooth and the filling. The white composite filling material is then sculpted into place while it still has a “playdough” consistency. Then a dental curing light will be used to harden the filling material into its final shape. At this point Dr. Spillers will adjust and polish the filling so it appears as lifelike as possible and allows you to chew normally. Once the anesthesia has worn off (typically about 1-2 hours at most) you can chew and use this tooth. There is no waiting period necessary. It is possible the tooth and the injection area may be a little sore for a couple of days, and if this occurs just take Advil or Tylenol as needed.
Typically, a filling will last somewhere between 7-10 years. Many people consider a filling a “permanent” solution and think that once the procedure is done the problem is fixed. Most people don’t know that a filling can get another cavity underneath it. Unfortunately, a filling only repairs the damage and does not correct the source of the problem. The source is getting patients to brush and floss better and make healthy food choices. We will help educate you on how to clean your fillings and take good care of them. With your help, you can expect your filling to last much longer that the average of 7-10 years that is common.
There are numerous benefits of composite fillings over traditional types of fillings done in the past. Composite fillings blend in more naturally to the surrounding teeth because they are white. They also feel more natural when you chew and taste. Compared to old amalgam (sometimes called “silver”) fillings, composite fillings bond to the tooth and create a much tighter seal. This helps to prevent decay from creeping back under the filling. Additionally, composite is less temperature sensitive that amalgam metal fillings. Amalgam can carry the temperature of a cold or hot liquid into the tooth and cause it to be sensitive. Extreme temperatures can also cause the amalgam to expand and cause cracks in a tooth over time. Composite overcomes these challenges and helps to support the surrounding tooth structure instead of weakening it.
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