If it seems like every time you see the dentist, you need another filling, you’re not alone. Second to the common cold, cavities are the most common ailment that American adults face, making fillings a very common procedure. Dr. Jacob McLauchlin is a Nixa, MO dentist here to answer your questions about cavities, fillings, and what to expect if you need a filling.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
When naturally-occurring oral bacteria digest leftover food particles on the teeth, plaque forms on the surface of the teeth. These bacteria produce acids during this process, which dissolve the enamel and cause small holes in teeth. These holes are called cavities, and over time they become larger and can cause extensive damage.
Fortunately, regular dental exams catch cavities before they become too large to manage. Stopping tooth decay early is important to your overall oral health.
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.
In many cases, you can feel discomfort when you have a cavity or progressive tooth decay. It often begins with mild sensitivity to extreme temperatures, such as very cold or hot liquids. You may also feel transient sensitivity to sweet food. Over time you might become even more sensitive to temperature or feel a tingling or electric sensation when eating. If tooth pain becomes constant, it is probably time to see a dentist.
What Are Fillings Made Of?
Fillings used to be silver, standing out in the teeth, but modern fillings are a tooth-colored plastic composite. This material is soft when applied, but is hardened with a UV light as it chemically bonds to the tooth. Most plastic composite fillings are invisible to the naked eye.
How Much Will It Cost?
Costs of fillings can vary widely 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?
Most of the time, patients do not have any restrictions after a filling and can immediately eat and drink as normal. Your tooth will be good as new and you won’t even be able to see or feel where the cavity was. The tooth may feel a little sensitive for the first 48 hours, but most patients are able to return to regular activities immediately following a filling.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
Even the most skilled dentist can’t make fillings last forever. Some fillings need replacement after 5-7 years, whereas some can last forever. Keeping up with your six-month dental exams will ensure that your dentist is able to monitor the filling. If you see any discoloration, chipping, or darkening under the filling, these are signs of decay and indicate the need for a filling replacement.
Tooth decay is a serious condition that needs to be addressed by an experienced dentist. To consult with Dr. McLauchlin at MAC Dental in Nixa, MO, call 417-725-3200 or schedule online today!