Frequently asked questions about cavities and dental fillings

How cavities are formed?

Due to the nature of this disease, the cavities don’t form instantly. In fact, there are several stages that they go through before they form completely. The first stage is called “enamel erosion”, which is when the bacteria start damaging your enamel and burrowing deeper into your teeth.

Tooth decay begins with tooth enamel damage from acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria produce acids that can break down the enamel, allowing plaque to penetrate deeper into the tooth and accelerating the formation of cavities. 

dental fillings for cavities: By dentist in Sherman Oaks

Without proper oral hygiene, the process continues, allowing the plaque to spread even faster. The decay process can be slowed or stopped by reducing plaque, which is why daily cleaning is so important.

Some tooth decay can only be fixed with a filling. That’s because of the variety of filling materials available, including amalgam, composite, gold, and ceramic. Knowing which kind to choose requires looking at your specific needs for the filling.

Call your nearby dentist to know which type of filling is suitable for you.

What are fillings and what they are made up of?

While amalgam and composite are the most popular options for tooth fillings, there are even more options that can keep cavities at bay. Gold, ceramic, or glass ionomer fillings involve a different material structure which makes them ideal for protecting teeth but still looking great.

Each filling material has its own strengths and weaknesses. Amalgam fillings are a mixture of different metals, which makes them more durable than composite fillings. 

Composite fillings are made with a resin-glass compound, so they’re very durable and can replicate the color of your teeth. Gold, ceramic, and glass ionomer fillings are less common options — each has unique properties that make it better suited for different types of decay or situations.

How to take care of your fillings?

Once you’ve got a filling, proper care is the key to preserving it — after all, splurging on a filling means saving money on future dental work. Proper oral hygiene includes proper flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash. Since the mouth is directly connected to the body’s immune system, it’s especially important to keep all of your teeth looking healthy and clean.

Recommended post: 7 Tips to keep your teeth clean

Will the teeth be sensitive after the filling?

After getting a filling, you might experience some sensitivity — spicy and acidic foods and drinks can cause intense discomfort when consumed. Fortunately, this feeling usually goes away after a couple of days coming back for another shot at your mouth is much easier to handle.

What are temporary fillings?

When you get a dental crown, it takes time to set. To keep your teeth healthy and the new restoration in place, a tooth-colored temporary filling is used to cover the prepared part of the tooth while it hardens.

A temporary restoration is a filling placed in a prepared tooth before the permanent restoration is made.

What’s the process of tooth-colored/temporary fillings?

Before your tooth-colored filling is placed, your dentist may need to remove some decay and thoroughly clean the area. Next, he or she will prepare the tooth to receive a top layer of tooth-colored material, adding a temporary filling in the meantime. Several layers of tooth-colored filling will be required depending on the size of the cavity.

What causes sensitivity to the dental filling?

Tooth sensitivity following placement of a filling is fairly common, but it’s an issue that you can easily remedy by avoiding acidic, hot, and/or cold foods. Usually, the sensitivity resolves on its own within a few weeks. During this time, avoid those things that are causing the sensitivity.

Can you be allergic to dental fillings?

Allergic reactions to dental amalgam are rare, but they can happen at any time during the patient’s treatment and even after. The most common symptoms are itching, swelling, and redness.

According to the ADA, fewer than 100 people in the US have a true allergic reaction to dental amalgams each year. However, if you’re one of these unlucky few, it’s important to avoid the potential trigger. 

In rare cases, a small percentage of patients are allergic to mercury, or one of the metals used in an amalgam filling.

Is dental filling covered in insurance?

Many dental insurance policies will only cover the cost of composite fillings to the same extent that they would cover the cost of silver fillings; if you’re looking for a more expensive option, however, you may have to pay the difference. It’s always best to call your issuer before any procedures to ask about coverage and price quotes.

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