About 78% of people have had at least one cavity by the time they reach age 17. This small hole that forms in your tooth is the result of tooth decay caused by bacteria. If left untreated, the decay can spread further into the tooth, potentially reaching the sensitive inner pulp located in the root canal. Fortunately, there is a simple treatment available to prevent this from happening. Dental fillings do just what the name says – fills in the hole to restore the tooth to its full strength and protect it from further decay.
There are several types of dental fillings near you and the most ideal one can be recommended by your dentist. They are found in two broad categories: metal, which includes amalgam and cast gold fillings, and tooth-colored, which includes composite, porcelain, and glass ionomer. Each has its own level of strength and cost. Glass ionomer, especially, has a unique advantage of releasing small amounts of fluoride to help prevent decay. Your fillings dentist near you can present you with your options and help you decide on which type of filling is best for you.
Cavities are usually detected during routine exams with an x-ray, which alerts dentists to the extent of the decay. To treat it, the tooth is first anesthetized. The decay is then removed, and the tooth is etched, or roughened, with a mildly acidic solution. A translucent cement is applied to bond the tooth and the filling material together.
The anesthesia should wear off within a couple of hours following treatment. During this time, it’s best to avoid drinking hot or cold liquids, as well as eating on the side of your mouth with the new filling. If tooth sensitivity persists and/or you have actual pain when biting a couple of weeks after the procedure, it could mean that the filling needs an adjustment. Brushing and flossing should be continued as normal every day, as well as regular dental visits (including cleanings) twice a year.