FAQ: What to Know About Dental Fillings

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tooth extraction washington dcPeople get cavities filled all the time. Does it feel like every time you go to the dentist you need another filling? The Arroyo Center for Aesthetic Dentistry in Washington, DC can help explain what fillings are, why people need them, and how to care for them.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

When food particles are left behind on the teeth, oral bacteria feeds on them and forms plaque. Over time, plaque hardens to form tartar, and bacteria release acids that dissolve the strong outer layer of the teeth, called enamel. This creates a hole, or cavity, for oral bacteria to attack the sensitive tissues inside the teeth, and the procedure to seal the hole is called a filling.

How Do You Recognize Decay?

As a tooth decays, you might notice the following physical symptoms:

  • Holes where food gets stuck
  • Chipped-off areas that your tongue often goes into
  • Dark spots on the teeth

Tooth decay starts off by feeling like mild sensitivity when eating certain foods, like sweets, but will progress into prolonged sensitivity to temperature or slight pain when chewing. Over time, if left untreated, tooth decay makes the teeth sensitive to certain foods or be in constant pain that lasts for several hours.

What is the Filling Made Of?

Filling materials used to be silver or flexible, biocompatible cements. Now, the most widely used substance is a tooth-colored plastic composite that is soft at first but hardens to the teeth when exposed to a UV light.

How Much Will It Cost?

Filling costs depend on several factors, including:

  • Size of the filling
  • The material the dentist uses to fill the cavity
  • Amount of remaining tooth structure
  • Oral health of the patient

What Should I Expect After A Filling?

Most patients can eat and drink immediately following a filling with no precautions. Your tooth will be good as new and you likely will not be able to see where the filling was done. You may feel some mild sensitivity in the tooth that was filled which should subside within a few days.

How Long Will My Filling Last?

If you’ve ever had a filling fall out, you know that they do not last forever. Fillings usually last 3-7 years on average but you need regular dental exams to ensure it’s holding up well. If you see any discoloration, chipping, or darkening beneath the filling, schedule an appointment with your dentist soon. These are often signs that the filling needs to be replaced due to more extensive tooth decay beneath the filling.

To consult with the team at Arroyo Center for Aesthetic Dentistry in Washington, DC about fillings or any other dental concern, call (202) 525-6913 or schedule an appointment online today!

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