Is tooth decay part of your daily life? A cavity filling is one of the most common treatments in dentistry. It’s a great way to protect your teeth and treat tooth decay. Here at Steven C. Hewett D.D.S in Champions Gate, FL, we offer this treatment to help you restore your smile.
How Long Does a Cavity Filling Last?
Understand What It Is
A cavity filling is used to treat tooth decay. Decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth mix with sugar and create an acid that eats away at the surface of teeth, causing cavities. Your body naturally repairs some damage caused by this process, but other areas may need help from a dentist or hygienist.
Fillings can be made of gold, silver amalgam, porcelain, or composite resin. They can either restore decayed areas of teeth or protect them from decay in high-risk spots, such as chewing surfaces close to molars.
How Long Do Fillings Last?
This depends on the type of material used and where the cavity is located. Composite resin is a tooth-colored filling that can last five to ten years if properly maintained, such as brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. Gold or silver amalgam fillings can last up to 15 years. Porcelain inlays and onlays are long-lasting and cosmetically appealing, although they cost more than composite materials.
Cavities on chewing surfaces typically require fillings every five to ten years, depending on your diet and oral hygiene care habits. Fillings in areas close to your gums last about 10-15 years since they’re more protected against decay than teeth exposed directly during eating activities.
Dental Implants vs. Cavity Filling
Both dental implants and fillings repair damaged teeth, but they’re not one and the same thing. Dental implants are ideal for patients missing large amounts of bone where natural teeth used to sit, while filing is mainly used when there isn’t much healthy tooth left.
Factors That Determine the Type of Filling You’ll Get
Your unique smile plays an important role in making this decision. That’s because the color of your teeth, how much enamel you have left on your teeth, and where cavities are located can help us determine what type is best for you. Let’s discuss these factors in detail:
Color of Your Teeth
Your teeth are not the same color throughout. A good filling should match your natural tooth shade. If you have dark or extremely bright teeth, a composite resin may be best since it matches most shades and takes stains well.
Amount of Enamel You Have Left
Enamel protects your teeth from decay by blocking out certain acids in your mouth that eat away at tooth surfaces. Over time with chronic decay, this protective barrier wears down. If you have plenty of enamel left, then a gold or silver amalgam filling is best since they are durable and last the longest. If you have less enamel left and your teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, then porcelain may be right for you.
The Location of the Cavities
The location of your cavities may influence the type of material used. For example, if you have a cavity between two teeth that are touching, then gold or silver amalgam fillings work well. If you have a cavity on a chewing surface, then porcelain is preferred since it can easily cover up unsightly staining.
Amount of Decay Present
The amount of decay that has already occurred on your teeth will also help determine the type of material used for your filling. If there are large areas without a healthy tooth left, then crowns may be recommended to protect the remaining structure from further damage. But if there are small areas of decay with a healthy tooth left, then a filling will be strong enough to repair it.
Overall Health Status
Your overall health status also determines the type of filling you get. For example, if you have gum disease and/or diabetes, the dentist may recommend a crown to protect your tooth from further damage.
Age and Other Personal Factors
Your age and other personal factors can also determine the filling you get. For example, older adults in good health and with healthy gums might prefer metal or gold amalgam fillings because they’re strong enough for chewing surfaces, whereas younger adults typically desire tooth-colored materials. The dentist will discuss all these factors when determining what material works best with your smile, so don’t hesitate to ask questions if anything isn’t clear about our recommendations.
What Tooth Filling Process Is Like
The process can vary slightly depending on the location of your cavity, but it typically includes these steps:
The dentist numbs up your tooth by injecting a local anesthetic. It takes about 5 to 15 minutes for the area around the tooth being filled to become numb. This ensures you’re can only feel pressure and vibrations but not any pain or discomfort during this period.
Once your tooth is numb, then we remove decay from within your teeth until there’s enough healthy structure left for us to build upon with our filling material. If too much decay has occurred already, then crowns may be recommended instead. We also clean out all bacteria within the affected area before filling the cavity.
The dentist then selects an appropriate filling material based on your specific needs and preferences.
We carefully use special instruments within or around your tooth to ensure the filling fits perfectly into place without causing any other damage in the process. That way, we can maximize durability while ensuring comfort during chewing activities afterward.
Once the filling is in place, we use a special light to harden it. This typically takes less than a minute but can vary depending on which material was used and how much decay had previously occurred.
Lastly, we clean your teeth again before sending you home with instructions for aftercare like brushing and flossing regularly. We’ll schedule another visit to check up on the new filling to ensure everything looks good afterward.
Cavity Filling FAQs
Does a Cavity Filling Hurt?
No. Many people worry that a filling will be painful, but it’s not since we numb up your tooth beforehand so there isn’t anything you need to feel during the treatment process.
Is It Safe To Eat Right After Treatment?
Yes, many people eat immediately after receiving a filling. But it would be best if you waited about one hour before eating anything hot or too cold since that can affect the treated area.
What Is the Difference Between Amalgam Fillings and Tooth-Colored Filling Material?
Amalgam fillings are silver-colored and made from a mixture of metals like tin, copper, mercury, and zinc alloys. In contrast, tooth-colored filling materials are typically white or off-white color made from a composite resin material similar to plastic. Composite resins also bond directly with your existing enamel, making them much stronger than amalgams since they don’t rely on any metal components for their strength at all.
Can You Fix a Cavity by Yourself?
No, you should always see a dentist if you’re having tooth pain or suspect an issue because our expertise is needed to determine what’s causing the problem. Note that teeth cavities don’t go away on their own, and they also don’t stop hurting on their own.
What If a Filling Falls Out?
If a filling comes out, then call us immediately because it may need to be removed and replaced with another one depending on why it fell out in the first place.
Can a Dentist Give You Something for Anxiety?
Yes, we can prescribe anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium or Xanax to help you feel more relaxed during your appointment.
How Can You Prevent Tooth Cavity From Occurring?
The best way to prevent tooth cavities is by brushing twice per day with fluoride-containing toothpaste and flossing at least once each day. But be sure not to brush too hard since this can also damage the enamel on your teeth. If you find yourself grinding or clenching your jaw while sleeping, then ask us about mouthguards and how they can help reduce how often you grind or clench during the nighttime.
Get Your Smile Back Today!
Cavity filling is a quick and easy procedure that’s done right in our office. We’ll numb up your tooth so you won’t feel anything during treatment. The results will be very natural-looking and long-lasting. Call us at Steven C. Hewett D.D.S in Champions Gate, FL, to schedule your appointment today!