Anyone who has ever had toothache knows how painful it can be. Dental fillings can restore your teeth so they not only look great and let you eat properly again without pain. If you have cavities or small holes in your teeth, or you have damaged or fractured a tooth, a filling could be used to restore your smile. As one of the most common restorative procedures in dentistry, a filling is usually completed in a single appointment so you can walk out on the same day.
A filling is literally the process of filling a damaged, worn or broken tooth, or teeth, to restore a natural appearance. Fillings come in a wide variety of materials and your dentist will be able to advise you on what will give you the best results. Tooth-coloured composites to blend in with the rest of your mouth and silver amalgam are the most popular types of fillings. Your choice may partly come down to where in your mouth the filling will be.
There are many reasons why your dentist may recommend a tooth filling. It may be that you are suffering from tooth pain, or that you have suddenly started to suffer from tooth sensitivity when this has not been a problem previously. You may have signs of decay or you could have damaged your teeth in some way. You may have worn teeth, caused by the ageing process or as a result of biting your nails or grinding your teeth.
However, it may be that you have very few symptoms. You could simply notice that your tooth is feeling a little rough when you run your tongue over it, or the dental floss you use could keep breaking when you clean around a certain tooth.
Fillings are generally carried out in just one appointment. First, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth to be filled with a local anaesthetic before removing any decayed sections of your tooth. Once the decay has been taken out, your dentist will give the area to be filled a professional clean to ensure there is no bacteria or debris there.
Depending on how close to the root the decayed or damaged area is, a special liner may have to be put in place to protect the nerve when carrying out a cavity filling. The tooth filling material will then be applied before your dentist files and reshapes your new tooth.
Generally, fillings for tooth restoration can be completed in one day, but if you need an emergency filling or your dentist feels your mouth needs time to recover from nerve damage or a root canal, you may have a temporary filling put in place before returning for your permanent tooth filling.
The location of your filling, whether it is on a back or front tooth, and the type of material you have chosen will all have a bearing on how long your filling will last. A typical tooth cavity filling will last around five to 10 years before you need to have a replacement. With proper dental hygiene and check-ups, you can help to prolong the life of your filling, to ensure you can continue to eat the food you love and can smile with confidence.