Dental Fillings: Why You Might Need One
While getting a dental filling at your dentist's office in Austin, TX isn't something most people look forward to, it's something you'll probably need. You may think dental fillings are only used to treat cavities, but there's actually several reasons your dentist may recommend a filling. Modern fillings can be used to repair a chipped tooth, a cracked tooth, or enamel worn down from grinding. No matter why you need a filling, our team at Meadows Dental Care offers high-quality materials and options. Find out more about dental fillings, including what fillings are, why you might need a filling, your options when getting a filling (direct or indirect fillings plus different materials), and what to expect when your dentist in Austin, TX gives you a filling.
REASONS YOU MIGHT NEED A FILLING
There's several reasons you may need a dental filling. During your annual dental exam, your dentist will check your teeth to determine if you have a cavity or another problem that may be repaired with a dental filling.
- WORN ENAMEL
If you grind your teeth, bite your nails, or use your teeth to open things, you may have worn enamel. A dental filling can help restore the strength and health of worn-down teeth.
The most common reason most people in Austin, TX need a filling is to treat a dental cavity. Once the decayed area is removed, a filling is used to seal and protect the tooth.
Small chips in the enamel may be repaired with a dental filling. This may be performed to improve the appearance of your smile or to restore the health of the tooth.
A cracked tooth can sometimes be restored with a dental filling. A crack in the enamel should be treated before decay or an infection develop inside the tooth.
During your annual dental exam, one of the main things your dentist is checking for is cavities. They may use a manual tool, digital x-rays, a special dye, or a laser detection device to help them identify areas of weakened enamel and decay. If your dentist finds a cavity, chip, crack, or worn enamel during your exam, you may need a dental filling. They will review their diagnosis and then discuss the type of filling they recommend.
TYPES OF FILLINGS
There are two main types of dental fillings — direct and indirect. A direct filling is usually made of composite resin and is placed directly onto the enamel, typically to treat a small cavity. An indirect filling can be made of gold or porcelain and it will be made before it is placed from an impression of your teeth. Also known as an inlay or onlay, indirect fillings are better for larger cavities or a cracked tooth.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are usually recommended for the front teeth. Porcelain fillings can be shaded to match your other teeth for a seamless result, but they are more fragile compared to other fillings options.
- COMPOSITE RESIN
Composite resin is a modern material that can be shaded to be used as tooth-colored fillings. Composite resin can also be used as a cosmetic treatment to repair chipped teeth and mask discoloration.
Gold indirect fillings are better for the back teeth (molars and premolars) since they are one of the strongest materials. Gold fillings are the most expensive option, but they are more durable and tend to last longer than other materials.
Amalgam fillings are made of a mix of metals like silver and mercury. These were a common treatment for cavities, but most dentists now prefer composite resin for fillings since amalgam doesn't bond as well to enamel.
GETTING A FILLING
Once your dentist has decided you need a filling and which type you should get; your treatment will be scheduled. A dental filling can usually be completed using only local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth getting the filling. However, if you have dental fears or a strong gag reflex, you may be a candidate for sedation dentistry. At Meadows Dental Care, we offer different levels of sedation (for example, nitrous oxide gas or oral-conscious medication) to keep you calm and relaxed during your procedure. Once your mouth is cleaned and numb, your dental team can remove any areas of decay or damage. In some cases, your dentist will then use an acid gel to prep your tooth for the filling. Finally, your dentist will apply thin layers of composite resin or place your indirect filling. The dental filling will be hardened with a special light so it bonds with your tooth. After the filling is set, your dentist will polish the filling and your tooth so it feels smooth and natural.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR DENTAL FILLING
After your dental filling is set and your tooth is restored, it's important to maintain your dental health. You need to develop a home oral hygiene routine with twice daily brushing and flossing. You should also use mouthwash throughout the day, especially after eating or drinking sugary or highly acidic foods and drinks. In addition to your home care, you need to schedule appointments with your dentist in Austin, TX at least twice a year for professional cleanings and exams. Depending on the type of filling you choose and where it is placed, your filling can last anywhere from 5 – 15 years with good care. During your oral health exams, your dentist can check the wear of your filling and decide if it needs to be replaced.
FIX IT WITH A FILLING
While you may not want a dental filling, you have lots of options if you do need one. Modern dental fillings can treat a wide range of concerns from small cavities to chipped, cracked, or worn teeth. Meadows Dental Care offers high-quality dental fillings based on your unique needs and goals. If you're interested in repairing your teeth with a dental filling or having your oral health checked, contact our office in Austin, TX to schedule an appointment.
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.