knowledge for peace of mind

Have you been told you might need a tooth filled? Permanent dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures, with thousands of fillings being placed each day to protect and support teeth while restoring the appearance of a tooth…

what are dental fillings?

Dental fillings are placed in teeth to repair damaged or decayed tooth structure. The damaged part of the tooth is commonly known as a cavity. In our office, we place tooth colored composite dental fillings made from composite resin.

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filling before & after

symptoms

you might need
a dental filling if you have…

There are several causes behind the need for permanent dental fillings. Here are some signs and symptoms that indicate you might need a filling to restore a damaged tooth.  

The most prevalent oral health concern at our office is tooth decay. Common causes for tooth decay include: high sugar diets (sodas, candy), poor oral hygiene at home and cavity-causing bacteria. 

Our enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, but even this can be chipped or cracked particularly with high impact injuries to the face and jaw often seen in car accidents and contact sports. Chipping can also occur in patients who have a history of grinding or clenching (see nightguard) or have a habit of chewing on hard substances like ice, hard candy, nuts etc.  Sometimes, instead of chips on teeth, cracks can develop leading to a significantly weakened tooth, resulting in a crown or dental implant.

Studies indicate fillings typically last between 5 and 15 years before old/worn/broken fillings require replacements. Consistent home care and regular dental hygiene visits are major factors that can lengthen the lifespan of a filling. Tooth colored fillings visibile when smiling may need to be replaced sooner due to changes in the filling color as a result of staining. The most common need for a filling replacement is when the seal/bond between the filling and the tooth becomes poor due to tooth decay or trauma.

TOOTH DECAY

  • tooth sensitivity 
  • toothache
  • bad breath
  • pain while drinking or eating
  • presence of holes in the tooth enamel that can become discolored

CHIPPED TOOTH

  • tooth sensitivity
  • toothache (notably when eating hard foods)
  • headache
  • noticeable differences in how the teeth come together during biting

REPLACING AN OLD FILLING

  • tooth sensitivity
  • toothache when eating or drinking

 

our practice

While you're familiarizing yourself with this procedure, make sure you also visit our section on how we treat you during your care with a range of nice-to-have and need-to-have patient comforts.

 

Distraction Methods       –     Therapeutic interventions   –     Pain management 

what to expect during the process of having a tooth filled

Having a dental filling placed in a damaged tooth typically involves one appointment at the office. Read on for timings and how to prepare.

    At your visit

    X-ray & Exam: Expect a few X-rays to be taken at your visit. The dentist will evaluate the X-rays and complete an examination to determine whether a dental filling is required. It is important to communicate any symptoms to your dentist and any patterns in their appearance. For instance if you experience changes in your symptoms throughout the day, like when you are laying down or exercising.

    Preparation: To reduce any potential discomfort, a local anesthetic will be administered to numb the teeth and gums. Typically, the numbness will last a few hours.

    Removal of Affected Tooth Structure: Once the area is numb, the tooth is cleaned of decay and damage with specialized dental instruments. It is common to feel some vibrations in the affected area during the procedure.

    Placement of filling: Once the damaged tooth structure has been fully removed, the filling can be placed in the space to restore the tooth back to its original shape. The filling material varies in color and the dentist will match your tooth color for optimal esthetics. It’s important to control moisture during those process so cotton is often placed near the filling area. Adhesive is utilized to achieve a strong bond between the filling and tooth. Once the filling is in place and shaped accordingly, a bonding light will be used to activate the adhesive and harden the filling material.

    Finishing & Polishing: Final adjustments are needed to refine and smooth the material. You will be asked to bite down several times on bite paper. This paper is similar to carbon paper and allows us to see which areas need to be adjusted to create a biting surface that is in harmony with the rest of the teeth. Finally, the filling is polished smooth.

     

      advice & tips

      preparing yourself for  a dental filling

       

      • Take note of any symptoms you have and when they occur. Do you feel something when eating or drinking? What about when laying down or exercising? Take note and let the dentist know during your evaluation.
      • Prepare your schedule after the appointment accordingly, as your mouth will feel numb for a few hours after your appointment.
      • Concerned about how a filling will look? Rest assured, the filling material varies in color and the dentist will work to provide a shade that matches your surrounding teeth.
      • We encourage all of our patients to keep current with their dental cleaning/exams. We do not advise waiting for symptoms to develop before seeking care as this often represents a worsened oral health issue.

       

       

      aftercare

      after your dental filling…

      To ensure the best outcome for the procedure, it is
      important to:

      • Practice the recommended oral hygiene measures–brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and good flossing techniques.
      • Reduce excessive biting force–like chewing on ice.
      • Visit the dentist for cleaning and checkups regularly.

       

       You may notice…

       

      A small percentage of patients will experience minor temperature sensitivity after a filling. This usually dissipates with time. If it does not, it is important to let the dentist know.

      If you experience biting sensitivity after your appointment and it is not going away, please contact the office.

      dental filling faqs

      answering your questions about dental fillings…  

      Will people be able to see my filling?

      No, not unless they are a dental professional working on your mouth! We use tooth colored composite resin for our fillings. This ensures we can match the shade of your surrounding teeth and enable you to open your mouth wide and not see a mouth of metal.

      How long will a filling last?

      You should expect your filling to last 5-15 years. The broad range depends on your oral hygiene practice and personal habits such as chewing ice, grinding teeth etc. Tooth colored fillings visible when smiling may need to be replaced due to changes in the filling color as a result of staining. The most common need for filling replacement is when the seal/bond between the filling and the tooth becomes poor as a result of tooth decay or trauma. We can offer guidance on how to maximize the lifespan of your new investment. 

      Will the fillings procedure be painful?

      We work very hard to reduce any discomfort before, during and after the process. Our office starts with the strongest topical anesthetic to reduce the chance of feeling anything during the numbing process. Then we will numb the tooth and surrounding tissues with local anesthesia so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.

      In addition to our topical anesthetic, we utilize a painless oral injection system, DentalVibe®, to reduce any discomfort during the numbing process. DentalVibe is a unique tool that can help alleviate dental fear and anxiety, allowing you to undergo the treatments needed to maintain a healthy mouth. DentalVibe provides gentle vibration to the site of the dental injection that overloads the nerve that sends pain signals to the brain so you don’t feel the injection. Most patients who have a DentalVibe injection aren’t even aware they’ve had an injection! The vibrations disperse the anesthesia once it’s injected to allow it to get to work even faster…plus the sound of the vibration creates an added distraction!

      DentalVibe is especially helpful in reducing dental fear among children. Many adult patients feel they wouldn’t have developed dental fears if they had this tool when they were younger.

      We also employ a whole host of patient comforts to create a soothing experience. Learn more here.

      How long after a filling do I have to wait to eat and drink?

      We recommend that you wait until the numbness has subsided before eating anything that requires you to chew.  Though the filling is ready for use immediately, we recommend waiting to eat as it reduces the chance of biting your tongue, cheek, or lips unknowingly.  You can drink using a straw on the opposite side of the mouth that was worked on.  If you are hungry and need some calories before the numbness wears off, it is okay to drink a smoothie, shake, etc.  We also recommend refraining from drinking anything hot as one could burn themselves and not know it due to being numb.

      Have more questions? Please call us at 480-608-5444 or email us and we’ll be able to talk you through the process.

      Tips & advice from Dr. Silverman:

       

      Sugary sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are great…

       

      for causing cavities! These drinks provide the perfect storm for cavity-causing bacteria—a ton of sugar to feed the bacteria while releasing acid that creates holes in the teeth (cavities). To make matters worse, these drinks are extremely acidic and are like throwing gasoline on a cavity-causing fire!  Sugar free versions of these drinks are still highly acidic and can also damage our enamel. 

      If you drink an item like this, its important to drink it in one sitting, use a straw and rinse your mouth for thirty seconds with water before brushing your teeth.   

      For more advice, visit our faq page