FAQ: What to Know About Cavity Fillings

northern va dentist for dental implantsDoes it seem like every time you go to the dentist, you’re told you need another filling? Dentists like Dr. Datta Malyavantham in Reston, VA perform thousands of fillings a year with high success rates. Learn the warning signs of needing a filling, what to expect during the procedure, and how to care for them.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

When food particles remain on the teeth, they combine with oral bacteria and saliva to form plaque. If plaque remains on the teeth, the bacteria release acids that dissolve the strong outer layer of the teeth, called enamel. When enamel dissolves, it creates a hole for oral bacteria to attack the sensitive tissues inside the teeth, and this hole is called a cavity.

How Do You Recognize Decay?

When a tooth begins to decay, you might notice the following physical symptoms:

  • Dark spots or gray-black areas on the teeth
  • Holes where food gets stuck
  • Chipped-off areas that your tongue often finds

Tooth decay feels like mild sensitivity or transient sensitivity while eating sweet food, but it can progress into prolonged sensitivity to temperature or slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if left untreated, you might feel sudden sensitivity to certain foods, an electric sensation, or constant pain that lasts for several hours that requires medication to be treated.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

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 Ridgetop Dental in Reston, VA about fillings or any other dental concern, call (571) 313-7010 or schedule an appointment online today!