The idea of getting fillings strikes fear in the hearts of many people. But it’s nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of sometimes, even people with the best dental habits need fillings, due to cavities or dental trauma.
We’ll take a look at what to expect when fillings are needed to alleviate some of that anxiety:
Why Fillings Are Needed
Fillings are most commonly used to treat a cavity. Once a cavity is detected, your dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed part of the tooth and then fill the empty tooth area, leaving the affected tooth whole and healthy again.
Fillings can also be used to repair teeth that are cracked and broken, either through injury or wearing of teeth from bad habits like grinding teeth or chewing on hard candies or ice.
Types of Fillings
Dental fillings are made to replace missing areas of the tooth and provide a sturdy replacement tooth surface. There are several options for filling material that dentists and their patients can choose from based on appearance and budget.
One of the oldest and most common materials for fillings is silver/amalgam. This option has been in use for over 150 years and has become the go-to for many dental professionals because it’s cost-effective and easy to place. Amalgam fillings start out shiny and silver but become dull and gray over time making them a practical choice for fillings in the back of the mouth that people are unlikely to see.
Composite resin fillings are a more popular affordable choice for clearly visible front teeth, as the acrylic resin can be easily matched to natural tooth color. However, because acrylic doesn’t last as long as porcelain or metal fillings and is more prone to staining, it’s recommended that this material is used for smaller cavity repair.
Porcelain fillings are one of the most expensive choices for fillings, and they are an appealing option because they can be matched to a
natural tooth color while being durable and stain-resistant. However, these are more commonly used for larger fillings or onlays because porcelain fillings require patients to be fitted.
Steps and Recovery
The full procedure of fillings can depend on which material is being used. However, no matter what filling is used, the procedure starts the same way:
Getting fillings starts with the dentist administering an anesthetic to reduce discomfort. A local anesthetic numbs only the area that’s being worked on, allowing the patient to be fully awake and responsive.
For patients with anxiety, additional anesthetic options are available! Talk with your dentist for more information.
Once the mouth is numbed, the dentist will work on preparing the tooth and filling it. The patient won’t feel a thing during the procedure thanks to the anesthesia.
After the fillings are complete, the anesthesia will wear off. During this time, it’s common to feel tingling in the mouth or a pins and needles sensation. It’s also normal to feel some sensitivity in the affected teeth, which should go away within a few days.
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