What is a dental filling?
A filling is used to fill a hole (cavity) or chip in a tooth to restore your tooth back to its original size and shape. A filling is necessary if there is decay in your tooth to prevent the decay from spreading and causing pain.
How will I know if I need a filling?
You may suspect you have a hole in your tooth if your tooth is painful or sensitive to hot or cold things or with eating. You may have lost a filling or your tooth is chipped or cracked or maybe you can see a cavity in one of your teeth. All these things may suggest you have a hole in your tooth and require a dental filling.
Who will need a filling?
People of all ages, including young children can develop holes in their teeth and will require a filling to restore the tooth back to its original shape.
Reasons for needing a filling
Tooth decay- this is damage to a tooth's surface, or enamel. This happens due bacteria in your mouth from food and drinks which will form a sticky film on the teeth called plaque. This makes acids that attack the tooth surface and can lead to holes (cavities) in your teeth. If tooth decay is not treated, it can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
Chipped or fractured tooth- this can be from eating something hard, an injury or from losing a filling. This can cause the tooth to be sharp, sensitive or painful.
Acid erosion- this is when the outer tooth surface called enamel gets worn away by acidic food and drinks or by medical conditions such as acid reflux.
Abrasion or attrition- this is when the tooth surfaces get worn away by grinding the teeth (normally when stressed or in while sleeping) or by aggressive/ heavy toothbrushing.
What happens during the filling procedure?
Normally a tooth will be numbed with an injection of local anaesthetic in order to remove the decay without it being painful, but not all teeth will need this, especially if the cavity is only small.
Once the tooth is numb all of the decay will be removed. The cavity will then be shaped, cleaned and dried in preparation for the filling.
The tooth will then be filled with the necessary filling material.
The filling is then shaped and polished and finally the bite is checked to make sure it feels comfortable when you bite together.
What kind of fillings are available?
Composite- these are the tooth-coloured fillings, often called white fillings. This material is made of a plastic resin and they are blended to match the current shade of your teeth to make them look as natural as possible.
Amalgam- this is the traditional silver filling material made from different metals including silver, tin and copper. Amalgam is very hard wearing but due to the noticeable colour they are used more for the back teeth. Amalgam is also rarely used these days as patients generally prefer the tooth- coloured composite fillings.
Inlays/ onlays- if a general filling isn’t suitable for your tooth, then you may be advised to have an inlay or an onlay. These are a lab made filling and are more suitable for the back teeth that have larger cavities. These can be made from metal, composite or porcelain.
What should I do after I have had a filling?
If you have had the tooth numbed, then you will have a tingling sensation for a few hours after the treatment has been completed. Avoid eating until the numbness has worn off to prevent biting your lip or tongue and to protect the filling. You may use the tooth as normal after numbness has fully gone.
The tooth may be sensitive to hot or cold things for a week or two after the filling is placed- this is completely normal.
If the tooth starts to cause pain or discomfort after the filling is done then please call us on 0114 3493326 so an appointment can be made to have this checked.
How should I avoid having a filling in the future?
Avoid acidic/sugary food or drinks. Try not to snack on these types of things throughout the day as this will mean the teeth are exposed to sugar or acid attacks constantly throughout the day. It is best to keep these types of foods or drinks to meal times only and preferably only once a day.
Brush for 2 minutes twice a day with a manual or electric toothbrush (preferably an electric toothbrush as they are clinically proven to remove more plaque compared to a manual toothbrush).
Clean between the teeth with floss or interdental brushes/ sticks at least once a day.
Use a toothpaste which contains at least 1450ppm fluoride
Change your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head at least every 3 months.
See the dentist and hygienist regularly