Dental fillings are some of the most popular restorations in general dentistry. They are made of a silver or tooth-colored material and are used to fill a hole created by a cavity inside a tooth. Because many patients must undergo this type of procedure, it is important to understand why it is necessary and what happens during the appointment. Patients should always consult with their dentist to find out what procedures are right for their unique situation.

Why Are Fillings Necessary?

Plaque and bacteria cause dental decay. If decay is allowed to progress for too long, a hole can form in a tooth. This is what many patients refer to as a cavity. The cavity only gets larger over time if it is not treated. Treatment is easiest when the cavity is small, and dental fillings are the least invasive treatment for dental decay. If the decay is not caught in the early stages, the tooth could eventually need a crown or even a root canal.

What Happens During the Appointment?

During a filling appointment, the dentist will numb the area to be treated. Then, he or she will use an electric dental handpiece to remove decay from the tooth. There may be some noise and vibration, but the patient should not feel any painful sensation. Once the cavity is removed, the filling material is placed inside the tooth. If tooth-colored (resin) material is the chosen material, a curing light will be used to bond the filling into place.

How Do I Take Care of a Dental Filling?

After getting a dental filling in a tooth, patients may wonder how to take care of it. Thankfully, the aftercare is pretty straightforward. The area where the numbing injection may be sore for a day. The tooth may feel sensitive for a few days, but sensitivity toothpaste usually takes care of it. The patient simply has to brush and floss all the teeth to keep them free of plaque and tartar. These daily oral hygiene habits can help prevent new cavities from forming as well.

Going to the dentist may be scary for many patients, but it should be comforting to know that dentistry has come a long way in recent years. If patients are concerned about treatment, a conversation with his or her dentist is warranted. This way, the dentist can help alleviate any concerns, and the patient can make an informed treatment decision.