Why Dental Fillings Are a Common and Necessary Treatment That You Shouldn’t Fear
Many people fear the dentist because they don’t know exactly what goes on during dental treatments. So instead of going to the dentist when needed, people try to ignore the nagging pain in their teeth, because the pain is better than the unknown. Dentists ensure that they provide their patients with the best care possible so that they are comfortable and experience pain-free procedures. If you have a cavity, and the thought of dental fillings makes you panic, don’t worry. This is a very common—and necessary— treatment that you shouldn’t fear. Here’s why.
Why You Need Them
The bacteria in your mouth feeds on the foods you eat. But after the bacteria eat, they produce an acid that corrodes your teeth. Over time, the acid will create a hole in your tooth—known as a cavity. You can prevent this harm by removing the bacteria—also known as plaque. Regular brushing and flossing will keep the bacteria and harmful acid away.
If you do end up with a cavity and ignore it, the tooth decay will get worse over time, causing discomfort, pain, and eventually infections that could lead to a root canal or the loss of a tooth. But you can avoid all of this pain with the help of dental fillings.
During an appointment, your dentist will remove all of the harmful bacteria that are causing the cavity. Your dentist will then fill the hole in your tooth with a hard material—a dental filling—to keep your tooth intact and protected from further bacteria and decay.
Types of Fillings
The materials used for fillings will depend on your dentist’s recommendations. These types of materials include:
- Amalgam—made of metals;
- Composite—made of composite resin; and,
- Porcelain—made of porcelain.
While amalgam fillings are the traditional filling material, composite and porcelain fillings are often preferred these days. Unlike the silver metal of amalgam, these newer filling materials match the colour as your teeth, providing a natural, attractive appearance instead of an ugly dark metal in your teeth.
Your dentist will apply a numbing gel to the area that will receive the local anesthetic. Once the gel has numbed the area, your dentist will administer the local anesthetic with a needle. Your dentist will use the numbing gel and the local anesthetic to prevent you from feeling any pain throughout the dental treatment.
2. Ensuring Additional Comfort
Once your mouth is numb, your dentist will place a rubber dam and a bite block in your mouth. A rubber dam covers parts of your mouth and teeth to protect them from getting wet during the treatment. A bite block is a rubber triangle placed between your upper and lower teeth to keep your jaw open so you don’t have to use your jaw muscles throughout the procedure. Both of these materials provide additional comfort during the treatment.
3. Removing Decay
Next, your dentist will clean out the bacteria and remove the tooth decay using a high-speed hand piece. You will also have a high-volume suction piece in your mouth to suck up any water and debris during this part of the treatment. Your dentist may switch to a low-speed hand piece, and eventually a hand instrument to remove the remaining decay and refine the area for the filling. Throughout this process, your dentist will spray water and air onto your tooth to keep it clean and visible.
4. Placing the Filling
The filling process will vary slightly depending on the type of filling material your dentist uses. Before treatment, you can ask your dentist to explain the type of filling procedure they will use. After your filling is in place, you will bite down on a carbon paper to see if it is even. If the filling is too high, your dentist will lower it with a handpiece, and may also smooth it out with mild abrasives. These final steps ensure that your filling is comfortable and natural feeling.
After the treatment is finished, you can get back to normal life—except you may want to avoid drinking and eating until the numbness is gone. You’ll realize that dental fillings aren’t actually bad, and you’ll be happy to have your tooth restored and pain-free, which will end up being a major improvement to your quality of life.