Cavities and tooth decay are the most common health problems in the world. An excellent way to prevent dental health problems is by having excellent oral and dental hygiene. Regular visits to a dentist can lead to the detection of tooth decay and cavities at its early stages. Fillings, also known as restoration, are the most widely used treatment option when tooth decay has progressed beyond the initial stages. For residents of Encino, California, you can receive exceptional services to retain your smile from a team of qualified dentists at Encino Dentist.

What are Dental Fillings?

A dental filling is a treatment to restore the ability and structure of a tooth damaged by decay. The process involves removing the decayed material, cleaning the affected area, and filling out the cavity with a filling material. The filings are done to prevent further decay.

Types of Fillings

There are a few available options for tooth fillings that have both their advantages and disadvantages. The best tooth filling option for a patient mainly depends on the cost, insurance cover, and the aesthetic preference of the patient. There are various materials used for cavity fillings and may vary in strength and color. Although amalgam and composite are the most commonly used, there are other options available, including porcelain, gold, and a particular type of glass.

Amalgam Fillings: Various researches have been done on the use of amalgam material as a tooth filling. Dental professionals have used the material for more than a century. The amalgam material has a strong aspect that makes it suitable for filling cavities in the molars to enable effortless and painless chewing processes. Since amalgam is the combination of mercury, silver, and other metals, they are easily noticeable when used for tooth fillings. The use of amalgam is the least expensive among all the cavity filling materials. Even though gold is ten times more costly than silver, it is more widely used of the two. Metal fillings can last ten to fifteen years before they need to be replaced.

Composite Fillings: Also known as filled resins or composites, composite fillings are made of a combination of glass or quartz filler, which can be enhanced to match the color of your teeth. They are relatively strong, which makes it suitable for small to moderate restorations of teeth used for moderate chewing, such as the premolars.

Ceramic: They are made of porcelain and are less likely to show tooth stains over time compared to composite fillings. They are also tooth-colored, which makes it nearly as expensive as gold cavity fillings.

Glass Ionomer: A glass ionomer is a mixture of acrylic and glass that is used to create a cavity filling that release fluoride to help protect the teeth. The disadvantage of using this kind of cavity filling option is the durability, as it may need to be replaced in as little as five years.

The Dental Filling Procedure

The first step of the dental filling procedure is consultation and planning. The dentist inspects your teeth and decides upon the best course of action. The dentist will use the dental probe and caries detector dyes to examine the teeth and identify the problematic areas. You will then be advised on the available options for tooth filling materials. The options will depend on specific factors such as the location of your cavity, medical history, aesthetic preference, and the costs of the treatment. In some cases, an X-ray may be used to give a more precise location and severity of the decay.

After deciding on the tooth filling material, the dentist will then administer a local anesthetic around the affected area. The anesthesia will then become numb reducing pain throughout the procedure. The damaged tooth and its surrounding areas will then be cleaned by removing the decay. A handpiece or a laser may be used to remove the decayed parts of the tooth. An acid gel will be used to ensure all the bacteria and debris are removed by cleansing the area.

For the dentist to place the filling material, he or she will need to isolate the affected tooth. The isolation is done to prevent interference in the restoration by allowing moisture in the bonding process. Adhesives are placed to help the composite materials bond quickly and securely. The composite material is then hardened with the use of a special bonding light. Finally, the tooth is then polished to maintain the shape of a healthy tooth.

After completion of the dental filling procedure, the dentist may offer consultation services to advise on how you can prevent decay from forming underneath or near the filling. The dentist will then recommend you to follow good oral practices such as brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and using an interdental cleaner daily. If you have a high risk of caries, a sealant may be placed over the molars to prevent plaque build-up and decay in the area. You may also be given appointments to examine the progress of the tooth with the filling and regular professional cleanings.

Benefits of Dental Fillings

Dental fillings have many benefits. They can improve tooth functionality. Tooth decay can make chewing quite difficult and painful. You will then be able to chew your food without difficulty or discomfort once to have your tooth filled.

Tooth fillings can also prevent infection to the exposed tooth before conducting other dental treatments such as root canal that is done in several visits. A temporary filling can be placed to give the tooth and gums ample time to heal while preventing infection.

Dental fillings such as the glass ionomer can release fluoride to safeguard the tooth from additional decay and damage. When the decay is beneath the gum line, then the fluoride released can supplement tooth enamel hence reversing the early stages of tooth decay.

The dental fillings can match the aesthetics of natural teeth, making it impossible to differentiate the fillings from the rest of your teeth.

In cases where your tooth is broken or cracked, dental fillings can give strength to your weakened tooth.

Tooth fillings can last for a long time, depending on the material used for the restoration process. Some fillings are highly resistant to corrosion and can last up to two decades.

How to Care For Your Dental Filling

It is always essential to take care of your dental filling so that it can stay longer and in good shape. Only choosing the right dentist is not enough to ensure the sustainability of the filling. Immediately after the procedure, your mouth will still be numb for a few hours, so you should avoid chewing on the affected side. The discomfort caused by sensitivity and pain should subside after a few hours of the dental filling procedure. You should always adhere to your oral care routine by brushing and flossing to help prevent further decay.

Fillings can wear out over the years of chewing before they need to be replaced. You may need to have your tooth fillings replaced if you clench or grind your teeth. If you notice signs of wear on your tooth fillings, such as worn areas or cracks, you should visit your dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible. If you fail to visit the dentist, the tooth can be damaged further and require additional repair that is expensive and complicated. In case a tooth decay develops around the feelings, the dentist may choose other treatment options such as crown instead of a second cavity filling.

Potential Problems With Cavity Fillings 

Although dental fillings are common to administer, some complications may arise either during or after the procedure. Here are the possible risks and complications:

Infection: Sometimes, a small space may be created when the cavity filling pulls away from the tooth. The area can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause additional tooth decay. You should see a dentist immediately you notice a space between the tooth and the cavity fillings.

Damage: A cavity may sometimes break, crack, or fall out. The damage can be caused by biting something hard or if you are hit in the mouth. To avoid irritation and infection to the unprotected tooth, you should visit a dentist.

You may experience allergic reactions as a result of the dental fillings such as amalgam and orthodontic instruments.

The procedure might cause injury to the nerves, blood vessels, adjacent teeth, or other parts of the mouth.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me

A tooth cavity can cause a variety of complications if it is left untreated. It might cause pain, tooth abscess, which can trigger life-threatening complications and pus development around the affected area. Failure to see a dentist might cause irreversible damage to your tooth. You might end up removing the tooth and replacing it with an implant or a bridge. For residents of Encino, California, you can get efficient and affordable dental filling treatment at Encino Dentist. Call us today at 818-650-0429 to receive quality, compassionate care.