What is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is used to fill a hole in the tooth (commonly termed as a “cavity”).
This hole in the tooth is commonly caused by tooth decay (where bacteria, and Plaque acids eat away at the tooth, causing it to literally “rot”).
Other type of damage to a tooth requiring a filling, include a chipped, fractured or worn tooth.
Holes / Cavities only get bigger over time… so the sooner they are spotted and filled, the less likely you are to have problems later.
If left untreated, and allowed to get bigger, a hole/cavity in a tooth can start to cause pain, sensitivity, bad breath, and eventually infection.
How do I know if I need a filling in my tooth?
Common symptoms that a tooth requires a filling, include:
Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet things.
A Sensitive tooth is different from a throbbing tooth or a toothache.
If a tooth starts to throb spontaneously or give ongoing toothache and pain on biting, it is usually a sign of a bigger problem, and may require more complex treatment than just a filling, such as a root canal treatment.
- A black or brown spot on a tooth.
- Flossing string tears in between the teeth.
- Food is getting stuck between teeth.
- You have lost a filling, or it has fallen out .
- A tooth feels rough to the tongue.
- Tooth is chipped or fractured.
- Tooth is damaged due to acid wear or erosion.
Can I need a filling and not have any sensitivity?
Many times, a tooth produces no symptoms at all, especially if the decay has just entered into the dentine ( layer of tooth structure under the enamel) and hasn’t progressed deep towards the pulp (nerve and blood vessels of the tooth).
Ideally, the tooth should be filled before you are getting too many symptoms of sensitivity & especially pain.
Fillings done when the holes are still small, mean that the filling itself will also be smaller as less tooth structure is required to be removed during the process of doing the filling.
Pain and tenderness to chewing, bite pressure sensitivity, sharp pain, and swelling in the gums above or below the tooth, are often signs and symptoms of deeper decay, & a bigger problem and that more complex treatment may be required to save the tooth.
During a check-up, your dental professional will use a small mirror & probe and a strong light to examine the surfaces of each tooth.
Very often, dental x-rays are required to check with more detail, in between the teeth, underneath the gum- line and within the tooth.
The type of treatment your dental professional suggests will then depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.
What’s involved in the dental filling procedure?
The dentist will offer to anaesthetise the tooth.
All decayed and weakened parts of the tooth are removed.
The tooth is then shaped, prepared & cleaned so it can take the filling.
The cavity/ hole prepared is then filled with a composite resin filling material ( or with an amalgam material). Porcelain is also used in the form of inlays, onlays and crowns.
These are, by definition, not fillings, but are restorations, which are produced outside the mouth (usually in a dental laboratory) and then cemented onto the tooth.
The bite is then checked so that it feels right when the teeth are put together.
Only your dental professional can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. That is why it is important to have your teeth frequently checked.
We recommend that you visit the dentist twice a year for a proper dental check – up and clean. That will ensure that your teeth are in good health and any problems can be detected early.