Cavities are permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of your teeth (aka enamel) that become tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay, are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary
drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well.
What are the signs you might have a cavity or need a filling?
Common cavity symptoms include pain when chewing, tooth sensitivity, soreness on one side of your mouth, a dark spot on a tooth, or a hole in a tooth. But some cavities have no symptoms, which is why it’s important to get regular dental exams.
If an old filling is cracked or loose, you have a cracked tooth, or are experiencing floss tears, you may need a filling. Either way, let your MCDC dentist know about your concern or discomfort. We’ll take a look and determine if a filling is the best treatment.
Reason for a Filling
If cavities aren’t treated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. They can lead to severe toothaches, infection, and tooth loss. To treat a cavity, your MCDC dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then “fill” the area on the tooth where the decayed material once lived. While a cavity is the most common reason to get a filling, it’s not the only one.
Other reasons you might need a filling:
● Replace an old or failing filling
● Repair a chipped or cracked tooth
● Strengthen a worn tooth
● Improve the color and look of your teeth
● To cover and/or protect sensitive areas on your teeth
Cavity Filling FAQs
There are many options available when it comes to selecting a material for a tooth filling, and they each have pros and cons.
- Composite resin
- Silver amalgam
- Glass ionomer
Composite resin, a tooth-colored material, is the most common type used today. Silver amalgam is also widely used, but the ability of dental resins to closely match the color of teeth have made silver amalgam fillings less popular.
Generally 60 minutes or less
Getting a filling is an extremely common dental procedure. In fact, almost everyone will get at least one filling at some point in their life. It’s done in one appointment and just a couple of steps.
- Your tooth gets numbed.
- Any decay is removed. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned and prepped for the placement of the filling.
- Your dentist or a special assistant will place, shape, and polish the filling. Your bite will be checked as they do this.
Home care instructions will be given to you before you leave. If you feel like your bite is off after getting your filling, please call your MCDC office to schedule an appointment for an adjustment. Note that you may have some sensitivity to hot and cold afterwards as well. This is normal for a short period of time, but if the sensitivity doesn’t subside, call us so we can come
up with a plan to fix it for you.
Fillings can range in price, especially when it comes to the material and the size of the cavity. Dental insurance plans also vary. Our dental team is here to help you evaluate your coverage details and determine costs. We also have two options that make dental care more affordable: MyDental Plan and Care Credit, which we are happy to discuss with you.
Once your filling is in, it is important to take good care of it. Typically, a filling will last 5-10 years before needing to be replaced. The better you take care of it, the longer it will last, so proper maintenance will save you money in the long run.
- Practice careful brushing.
- Remember to brush gently twice a day.
- Floss daily to keep your teeth in tip-top shape.
- Avoid hard foods. Chewing ice or hard foods might cause a filling or other teeth to crack.
These same steps will also help you avoid getting cavities or decay in the future so you hopefully won’t need any additional fillings.
Factors that impact material recommendations include:
- Tooth location
- How much of the tooth will show in your smile
- Position of your gum tissue
- Function of the tooth that needs the filling
- How much of the tooth is remaining
“Since I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 12 years of age, I have been scared to
death of the dentist. I wouldn’t sleep for 2-3 nights before any dental appointment, even a filling. Since going to My Community Dental Center for the past couple of years, I haven’t had a single fear. I feel comfortable, they are gentle, and they talk me through the procedure. They are all amazing.”