If it seems like every time you go to the dentist, you need another filling, you’re not alone. Cavities are common, and the filling procedure is routine. The Ridgetop Dental team, a dental practice in Sterling, VA, performs dozens of fillings a day and can tell you the signs of needing a filling, what to expect during the procedure, and how to care for them.
Why Do You Need A Filling?
Our mouths are naturally full of bacteria, and when food particles remain on your teeth for extended periods of time, these bacteria feed on those particles and create plaque. Plaque destroys tooth enamel — the strong outer layer of the tooth — because of the acids the bacteria produce. Over time, the bacteria destroy enough enamel to create a hole, which we call a cavity.
How Do You Recognize Decay?
- Dark-colored spots on your front teeth
- Chipped-off areas that your tongue often runs over
- Food getting stuck in holes in teeth
If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.
Tooth decay can make your teeth more sensitive to hot or cold liquids, or transient sensitivity when eating sweet food. It can eventually lead to pain when biting or chewing and even more sensitivity to hot or cold things. If left untreated, you can start feeling sharp pain, sudden sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods, or constant pain that needs medication to be relieved.
How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?
The most widely used substance to fill in cavities is a plastic composite, which is a tooth-colored material that hardens after being chemically bonded to the tooth with a UV light. Fillings used to be made of silver amalgam or a biocompatible cement material, but now fillings are nearly invisible.
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?
The modern fillings we do at Ridgetop Dental allow you to eat immediately afterwards with no precautions. You should be unable to see or feel where the filling was done and your teeth is good as new. There may be some mild sensitivity in the tooth which should subside within 48 hours.
How Long Will My Filling Last?
You might be surprised to learn that even the most skilled dentist cannot make a filling last forever. They last 3-7 years on average, but you still need to have them checked every year to make sure it’s still intact. If you see any darkening, discoloration, or chipping beneath the filling, see your dentist right away as this could be a sign that the filling needs to be replaced. You can schedule an exam with our Ridgetop Dental Sterling office online or by phone at (703) 520-7410.