A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. To treat a cavity, your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then “fill” the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).
First, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. Next, a drill will be used to remove the decayed area. Once the decay has been removed, the dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. After, the tooth-colored material is applied. Next, a special light that “cures” or hardens is applied. When this process is completed, the dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.
Indirect fillings are similar to composite or tooth-colored fillings except they are made in a dental laboratory and require two visits before being placed. Indirect fillings are considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it needs a crown.
There are two types of indirect fillings: inlays and onlays.
– Inlays are similar to fillings but the entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.
– Onlays are more extensive than inlays, covering one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.
Temporary or Sedative Fillings
Temporary fillings are used under the following circumstances:
- For fillings that require more than one appointment: for example, before placement of indirect fillings that use composite materials
- Following a root canal
- To allow a tooth’s nerve to “settle down” if the pulp became irritated
- If emergency dental treatment is needed, such as to address a toothache.
Problems With Dental Fillings
Tooth Pain and Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity following placement of a filling is fairly common. A tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods, or temperature. Usually, the sensitivity resolves on its own within a few weeks. During this time, avoid those things that are causing the sensitivity. Pain relievers are generally not required.
If the decay was very deep or close to the nerve of the tooth, you may experience a “toothache-type” pain. This “toothache” response may indicate this tissue is no longer healthy. If this is the case, root canal therapy may be required.
Periodontitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end (if not properly treated) with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes periodontitis (gum disease). However, it is important to know that not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.
In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque build up, causing the gums to become inflamed and to easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. No irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In a person with periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. When this happens, teeth are no longer anchored in place, they become loose, and tooth loss occurs. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:
Illnesses (cancer, diabetes, HIV).
Bad habits (smoking)
Poor oral hygiene habits
Family history of dental disease
Treatments for gum disease that don’t involve surgery include:
Professional dental cleaning (regular cleaning)
During a typical checkup your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque or/and tartar(plaque that builds up and hardens on the tooth surface and can only be removed with professional cleaning) from above and below the gum line of all teeth. If you have some signs of gum disease, your dentist may recommend professional dental cleaning more than twice-a-year.
Scaling and root planing
This is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure, done under a local anesthetic, whereby plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). Smoothing the rough spots removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planing is done if your dentist or periodontist determines that you have plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also called tartar) under the gums that needs to be removed.
At Inroma Dental we can make those old amalgam fillings look great by replacing them with beautiful white dental fillings. No more metal-looking fillings. Call us for an appointment 561-501-5759, and come by our office in Delray Beach-West Palm Beach area.