Brushing is an important habit to keep because it removes food debris and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Allowing these substances to remain can be harmful to the teeth because when the bacteria that live in plaque feed off of sugars that they find in the mouth, they create acids that damage the teeth enamel. This results in cavities (caries) that will then require dental fillings.
The procedure for placing dental fillings is one of the most common dental procedures. It takes out the decay that has formed in the teeth and replaces it with a material that restores the structure and function to the tooth. Fillings can be made from a variety of materials. Silver (amalgam) fillings used to be fairly popular, but today, the most commonly used material for fillings is a tooth-colored composite. This material offers the advantage of matching the natural color of the teeth so that the filling is not very noticeable.
To have a filling placed, the tooth must first be numbed to minimize any pain or discomfort. It will be cleaned thoroughly before having all of the decay removed. Once the space has been prepared by being cleaned of any remaining bacteria and debris, the filling material will be placed in layers to strengthen the filling. Each layer is hardened with a special curing light as it is applied. When all the layers have been applied, the filling will be shaped to fit with the rest of the teeth. This ensures that the patient’s bite is retained. Excess material will be trimmed off, and the filling is polished to complete the treatment.
In addition to treating cavities, dental fillings can also be placed when a tooth has been affected by trauma, such as after an accident and to treat tooth sensitivity,
Directly following the procedure, the mouth will remain numb for a few hours. There may be some tooth sensitivity or pain in the treated tooth and/or surrounding areas, but this usually goes away in a week or two. If it doesn’t, contact your dentist, as the filling may need retreatment.