How do I know if I need a filling?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs a filling. Therefore annual check-ups are so important. However, if you experience any of the following, you should make an appointment:
- Tooth pain – If your tooth hurts without any obvious reason, there could be a problem. This pain usually comes from the infection reaching the nerves.
- Obvious holes or dark spots – A hole or dark spot on a tooth may mean there’s a cavity.
- Sensitivity – If you are particularly sensitive to sweet and sugary foods as well as hot and cold temperatures, your enamel may be wearing away. This could be a sign that you need a filling to cover it back up.
- Bad breath – Tooth decay can lead to constant bad breath. The bacteria that is causing the decay is also likely to carry an unpleasant smell.
- Bad taste – As your tooth continues to decay, you may start to taste something very unpleasant. This could be the decay and the bacteria in your mouth.
- Pus – If you see/taste/feel pus in your mouth, this is a pretty serious indicator. It means that there is an infection, which requires immediate medical attention.
What type of filling is best?
No one type of filling is best for everyone. The choice will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost.
Material choices include:
- Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many consider gold the best filling material. Gold is not as popular anymore due to its cost and the need for multiple visits. Other materials are now preferred.
- Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark colour, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth. The advantage of dental amalgam is that it does not require the tooth to be dry for its placement and can therefore provide successful restoration in situations which might otherwise lead to the extraction of a tooth.
- Composite resins are matched to be the same colour as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. They are the material of choice for the restoration of small cavities. Major advances in the properties of this material have allowed us to completely change the way we treat decay. With less drilling, we can keep more of your healthy tooth. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. Coffee, tea, and tobacco can discolour white fillings, and have a shorter lifespan of 3 to 10 years compared to other types of fillings.
- Resin or Glass Ionomer – are often used on the primary teeth or to fill in small areas of decay, as they tend to be very delicate and take considerable wear and tear. When used on a permanent tooth, this type of filling is usually placed in a spot that isn’t subject to extreme pressure or chewing action.
What to Expect During Treatment
- Local anaesthesia – Dentist may numb the tooth area before filling.
- Tooth preparation – then the dentist will cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After the dentist removes the decay, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
- Restoring – for a bonded filling your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
- Resin application – The dentist will apply resin in layers and use a bright light to set it.
Top ways to avoid needing a filling
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- Use fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth twice, first thing in the morning before breakfast and the last thing at night. Brushing for 2 minutes.
- Avoid snacking on sugary foods – What we put in our mouth has a huge effect on our oral health as too much sugar can lead to cavities. It’s best to only have sugary food and drink at meal times. Snacking on sugary food throughout the day leads to an increased likelihood of tooth decay as the sugar is left on the surface of the teeth. A lot of foods have hidden sugar so be careful what you buy and make yourself aware of these foods!
- Rinse after meals – If you can’t brush your teeth after meals it can often be a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water. This enables any leftover sugar on your teeth to be rinsed, reducing the build-up of plaque and bacteria. Tap water also contains fluoride so this will help prevent tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist – Going to the dentist for a check-up means that tooth decay and cavities can be detected early on and preventive advice can be given. We offer dental check-ups and tips to avoid fillings.