Proper dental hygiene is one of the best ways to avoid a cavity. Unfortunately, many people still get tooth decay on their permanent teeth as early as their teenage years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 57 per cent of adolescents get cavities on their permanent teeth between 12 and 19 years old. Moreover, 90 per cent of adults 20 years and older have had at least one cavity.
Of course, having a cavity doesn’t mean you must get your tooth extracted ASAP. There are a few courses of action your dentist can take to save your tooth, including teeth fillings.
Here, you’ll learn five important facts about dental fillings to help you understand what they entail and how they can help keep you smiling brightly.
1. What are dental fillings?
First, you need to know what dental fillings are.
Dentists use fillings to repair teeth that have decayed, cracked, broken, or worn down.
This method of saving teeth has a wide range of uses, including:
- Dealing with dental wear caused by misuse, such as tooth grinding or nail biting.
- Recovering teeth that show signs of decay.
- Patching up broken, chipped, or cracked teeth from accidents or biting down on hard objects.
- Replacement of old fillings.
2. How is tooth filling done?
Many people fear dental fillings (or a trip to the dentist in general) because they think it will cause them pain. But what actually causes the pain is the bacteria and decay that have formed in the crevices within the teeth.
It could get worse if left unchecked. And when that happens, you may end up needing a tooth extraction.
To ease your mind about going to a dental clinic in Dubai to get teeth fillings, here’s a summary of how the process is done:
Step 1: Cleaning
Before anything else, your dentist will remove all food and debris stuck in and around the area to be filled. This will give them a clearer view of the cavity and ensure that no other areas have hidden tooth decay.
Step 2: Tooth Decay Removal
Once the area is clean, the dentist will apply a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. After it kicks in, they will remove the decayed parts of the teeth using a drill, laser, or air abrasion instrument.
The instrument to be used for this step will depend on the dentist’s training, comfort level, investment, and the extent of tooth decay, so make sure you ask first before getting an appointment.
Step 3: Probing and Filling Preparation
Next, the dentist will test and probe the affected area to determine if decay removal is successful. If it is, they will then prepare the tooth for a filling by getting rid of bacteria and any remaining debris around it.
Your dentist may also apply a liner to protect the nerve if the decay is near the root of the tooth. This can be made of composite resin, glass ionomer, or other materials approved for dental use.
Step 4: Filling, Curing and Polishing
At this stage, the dentist begins to fill in the crevice where the cavity used to be with a tooth-coloured material in layers.
For every layer of filling, the material is cured to make sure it is hardened.
Then, your dentist will shape the hardened filling to make it look and feel like your original tooth, trimming off or scraping any excess material as needed.
They then polish the newly filled tooth after achieving its desired shape.
3. What types of fillings are available?
Over the years, several types of teeth fillings have emerged. Now, you can choose from multiple materials to be used for your tooth, including:
A combination of silver and other minerals such as zinc, copper, tin, and mercury comprise silver amalgam fillings. It is popular for its affordability and durability, lasting for as long as 12 years. Dentists also find it easier to use due to its malleability.
The only drawback is that it’s not the same hue as the rest of the teeth and is not that aesthetically pleasing.
Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain material, making them both aesthetically pleasing and durable. They do cost more than other fillings, but they’re the best choice since they have the same colour as real teeth and can resist stains and abrasion.
However, they are more brittle if not used in larger cavities. That means the dentist will need to widen the crevice created to accommodate the extra bulk.
These fillings made of plastic and resin are placed in the tooth while still soft and cured with light to harden.
Some patients prefer this type of dental filling because of its ability to match the actual colour of the teeth. However, it doesn’t last as long as other types, with replacement needed every five to 10 years.
Glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and glass and release fluoride to prevent additional decay. Dentists use this type of tooth filling on children whose teeth are still forming.
The drawback is that glass ionomer is bound to crack or wear out. It even has a shorter lifespan than composite resin, not to mention it doesn’t have that natural-looking tooth-coloured appearance.
4. Is it too late to get a filling if the cavity hurts?
More often than not, dental cavities are still small, even though they cause pain for the patient. Still, you shouldn’t delay a trip to the dentist when you’re already feeling discomfort because of tooth decay.
If the cavity is still small, a simple dental filling should suffice. If it’s bigger, your dentist may recommend inlays and onlays (for medium-sized cavities) or a crown (for larger cavities).
5. Is a dental filling painful?
The process itself isn’t painful, especially if the dental practitioner applies an anaesthetic properly. On top of that, dental fillings in areas where there are no nerves (i.e., nowhere close to the roots of the tooth) are as painless as getting a haircut.
However, you may feel a bit of sensitivity afterwards once the anaesthetic applied has worn off. This usually happens because of the treated teeth’s exposure to air temperature, hot and cold foods, and the pressure of biting.
This won’t last long, though. Experts estimate the sensitivity to last about a week, tops.
Save Your Teeth
Besides preventing tooth decay with proper dental hygiene, you can also save your teeth with the help of dental fillings. This wonderful innovation in dentistry can keep you smiling brightly for longer. You just need to act fast and choose the best certified dental practitioner in Dubai to help.