Fillings and Sealants
Tooth decay and cavities are common dental issues. Receiving a tooth-colored filling to restore your tooth helps prevent the problem from developing into something worse.
Tooth Fillings and Sealants
What is a tooth filling?
A filling is a simple restoration procedure primarily used to restore cavities or other mild decay or deterioration. Fillings are extremely common and have a high success rate. We offer options for composite fillings and amalgam fillings—both are safe. Which type we use depends on your needs, but we commonly use composite fillings because they are tooth-colored and appear more natural for teeth that are visible and easier for others to see or notice.
What are dental sealants?
Sealants are a thin coating that is painted on teeth to protect them from cavities, they are typically used in children, but can be used in adults as well. Sealants are a quick and affordable option to preventing cavities and tooth fillings. When back teeth erupt, they have tiny grooves that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot always clean. Bacteria and food particles are often left in these areas, potentially resulting in decay. A sealant is a quick, painless procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic material is placed in these grooves to create a smooth surface that is more easily kept clean.
How do cavity fillings work?
Cavity and tooth fillings are required because of the deterioration of holes left in the tooth due to tooth decay. Left unchecked, the decay will continue to spread and damage the tooth. During the filling, procedure dentists clean away the decay inside the cavity, usually with a drill to prevent further damage. But this doesn’t fix the damage that has already been created, so a filling is necessary. The intent of the filling is to replace the part of the tooth that is missing or destroyed by tooth decay. The dentist molds the filling to match the shape of the surrounding tooth, which restores the strength and integrity of the tooth and prevents further decay from happening.
How long does a dental sealant last?
Dental sealants have been used and proven to be effective since the 1970s. They are mainly placed on chewing surfaces and are effective in preventing tooth decay. Their lifespan can vary, but many last years—and it is possible to place a new sealant on a tooth if the sealant wears off. It is important to note that sealants only protect the surface of the tooth they are placed on. Using fluoride and other preventative cleaning practices will still help protect all the surfaces of the tooth from decay and cavities.
Who's eligible to receive dental sealants?
While sealants are most often used on children, people of any age can receive sealants. Since cavities are most likely to develop in children from ages 6-14, we see the highest efficacy at these ages.
What types of filling materials are available?
There are several types of materials available that are used for fillings, which include gold, porcelain, silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc and copper), tooth-colored plastic and composite resin fillings. There is also a material that contains glass particles and is known as glass ionomer. This material is used in ways similar to the use of composite resin fillings. Which type is used depends on your dentist, the extent and location of your tooth decay, and sometimes, your insurance coverage.
Should I have tooth sensitivity after a filling?
When you get a filling, the area around the infected tooth is numbed by your dentist. As a result, you likely won’t feel anything for an hour or two after your appointment but once the numbing wears off it is typical to feel pain in your teeth and gums.
Pain is common when drinking or eating anything that is hot or cold. It is also common when you brush or floss near the infected tooth. Tender gums are also typical after getting a cavity filled.
Minimize Tooth Sensitivity
You can reduce the sensitivity in your teeth and gums by:
- Taking an anti-inflammatory drug like Advil or Motrin
- Temporarily avoiding hot, cold, or acidic foods and beverages such as fruit, wine, and yogurt
- Brush and floss more gently
- Use a desensitizing toothpaste like Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive
Questions About Tooth Fillings and Sealants?
If you have any questions about tooth fillings and sealants—contact us or request an appointment today. We also provide a variety of other preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services. What do you want to do next?