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Dental Filling

Despite our best efforts to prevent it, sometimes we have to treat dental decay by doing fillings on the affected tooth surfaces.

Getting a dental filling done is a restorative dental treatment process that treats tooth cavities and replaces tooth structure lost to decay. If the tooth is suitable to be treated by a filling, the dentist will first carefully remove the damaged and bacteria-infected portions of the tooth, then fill the missing areas back up with the most appropriate material. In doing so, much of the form and function of the tooth is able to be restored. The filling also serves to seal up the cavity, thus reducing sensitivity and decay recurrence .

About cavities and its harms

A cavity, commonly known as tooth decay, is caused by bacteria found in plaque (a sticky combination of bacteria, saliva, acid and food particles). This bacteria feeds on sugars we ingest and secretes an acid that breaks down our tooth structure, creating a hole or cavity in the tooth.

Dental decay usually does not cause pain in the beginning so you may not realize that it exists. Decay can sometimes be present underneath the superficial tooth enamel layer for some time before an actual cavity is noticed. It also frequently starts in places where food usually gets trapped, such as between the gaps of teeth. This makes it difficult for one to detect decay easily, despite diligent personal oral hygiene. Regular dental check-ups can help identify cavities during their early stages, allowing us to treat them before they damage even more tooth structure.

Symptoms

Below are some common symptoms that one might experience when they have tooth decay:

  • Toothache that occurs without apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, sour, hot or cold
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth
  • Uneven discoloration, shadowing or staining on the surface of a tooth
  • Food frequently getting caught in the same area

Why should I treat cavities

When left untreated, small cavities gradually become bigger.

The decayed areas of the tooth remain exposed to bacteria which thrives on food particles that can get stuck in the pits. Decay can spread rapidly through the enamel to dentin layer, and eventually to the dental pulp. When this occurs, the discomfort experienced becomes more frequent and intense. The treatment options will then get more complex and costly.

Therefore, it is advised to get a dental filling done as soon as possible if required.

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The Process Of Dental Filling

Step 1

Locating the decay

Your dentist will check the affected area. X-Ray(s) may be taken to help determine the location and extent of the decay. Based on your case, the dentist will discuss the filling material options available.

Step 2

Anaesthetic Administration

The discomfort can be eased with local anesthesia, which numbs the area that the dentist is working on.

Step 3

Removal Of Decayed Part Of Tooth

Once ready to proceed, your dentist will use dental instruments to remove any previous dental restoration followed by decayed and damaged tooth structure. A rubber dental dam may also be placed over the tooth to facilitate the filling process.

Step 4

Preparing The Cavity

The cavity will be thoroughly cleaned, shaped and prepared to be filled with the amalgam or tooth-colored material, as discussed before with your dentist.

Step 5

Cavity Cleaning

The cavity will be thoroughly cleaned, shaped and prepared to be filled with the amalgam or composite resin, as discussed before with your dentist.

Step 6

Tooth Filling

The filling is placed to cover the opening on your tooth. Once the filling has hardened, your dentist will shape the filling and polish off any excess. You will be requested to bite on carbon paper to check your bite. Should the filling be too high, the dentist will further adjust the filling to improve comfort and function.

FAQs

Do dental fillings hurt?

Yes. Although most patients find the discomfort bearable, everyone’s pain threshold, extent of decay and situation is different. You may opt for local anesthetic for a pain-free experience.

If my tooth cavity is not affecting me, do I still need dental filling treatment?

Yes, and as soon as possible!

While an early decayed tooth may not be giving you much trouble yet, do not be tempted to put off getting your filling done as tooth decay does not repair itself and can quickly become a much more complex and costly problem to fix! If left untreated, a small hole in your tooth can quickly grow and eventually cause the nerves in the dental pulp to get inflammed, causing intensified pain. Once this happens, your condition may require a root canal or extraction.

How long do dental fillings last?

This depends on many factors. Some of which are as follows:

  • Size of the cavity. Generally speaking, the more healthy tooth structure there is remaining, the better the chances are of retaining the filling in the long run.
  • Type of material chosen. Both tooth-colored and amalgam fillings have good longevity. However, there are certain cases which call for one material to be chosen over another, such as aesthetics for a front tooth.
  • Vitality of the tooth. Root canal treated teeth tend to be weaker than vital teeth and are more prone to fracturing.
  • Oral hygiene and decay risk. The filled tooth will not last as long if it is in an environment where it is constantly being challenged by sugars and acids.

What types of filling materials are used by your clinic?

We have a variety of high-quality materials available, for example amalgam, resin composite and glass-ionomer cements.

Do dental fillings need to be replaced?

While dental fillings tend to stay intact for a long time, they do not last forever. Eventually, all fillings need to be replaced. Some possible reasons to get a filling replaced are:

  • Worn out or chipped filling
  • Stains
  • New decay has formed
  • Remaining tooth structure has broken down

What happens when fillings wear out?

Fillings that have worn away, chipped, cracked or fallen out may leave gaps between the tooth and the filling. This provides an entry point for bacteria, consequently causing another decay. It can also be a source of sensitivity and discomfort.

When should a filling be replaced?

Below are some signs that your filling may need replacement:

  • The filling has chipped or cracked
  • You experience toothaches
  • You feel pain when you drink sweet, sour, cold or hot beverages
  • Your old filling has changed colour
  • The filling has fallen out

If you experience any of the above, ensure that your tooth filling is being checked out by a dentist to assess if it needs to be replaced. You may contact our clinic to make an appointment!

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