San Jose, CA
Harmful bacteria in the mouth make acids that attack the tooth enamel. The repeated acid attacks on your enamel weaken it, making it prone to cavities. In severe cases, the cavities will be large or destroy the whole tooth causing infection, pain, and eventual tooth loss.
If detected early, tooth decay can be stopped or repaired. One of the ways to achieve this is through dental fillings. At Nancy Shiba, DDS, we want you to have an understanding of dental fillings before you consider getting one.
What is a Tooth Filling?
A dental filling includes one or more combinations of plastics, metals, or other materials used to restore or repair teeth. A common use of tooth filling is filling an area of the tooth removed due to decay. Fillings are also useful in repairing cracked or broken teeth, teeth worn down from tooth grinding, or nail biting.
What Are Tooth Fillings Made Of?
The extent of decay and location, the cost of the filling material, and our team’s recommendation will dictate the type of filling you get. These fillings include gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, and composite resin.
Composite resin is a mix of powdered plastic resin and glass. These fillings fill the top of the teeth and closely resemble the original tooth material. They contain fluoride, which they release in small amounts to the teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay.
Silver amalgam is a commonly used dental filling. It is a mixture of mercury, tin, copper, and silver alloy. This filling is durable and safe, despite its mercury content, and more durable than other types of fillings.
Gold fillings are a mix of copper, gold, and other metals. The fillings are durable but expensive, given their gold content. Usually, our team will take an impression of your tooth and make the gold filling in the lab.
Glass ionomer fillings, like composite resin, mimic the natural tooth color but are not as strong. They are made of acrylic and glass containing fluoride, useful in preventing cavities. Glass ionomer fillings are commonly used in children's teeth.
Porcelain fillings are more natural-looking, almost resembling natural teeth. Like with gold fillings, our team will take an impression of your tooth and make them in the lab.
Are Dental Fillings Safe?
Dental fillings are safe and FDA-approved. However, there are still concerns from the public about the mercury content in the fillings. The claims about the safety of mercury in dental fillings started in the 1970s, with patients claiming that the mercury caused heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, among other conditions.
However, these claims appear to have no research basis as clinical research confirms that the mercury in these fillings is elemental mercury, also used in fever thermometers. This mercury is non-toxic and will not cause mercury poisoning.
With the mercury concerns surrounding amalgam fillings, the FDA restricted exposure to pregnant women, nursing mothers, children under age six, individuals with kidney problems, and pre-existing neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's. Instead, these persons can use resin and glass fillings.
Another concern with dental fillings is allergic reactions, especially with amalgam fillings. Still, these reactions are rare, and according to the ADA, the cases are less than 100; hence, no cause for alarm. No confirmed allergy cases relate to resin, glass, or porcelain fillings.
Like any other dental restoration procedure, you will experience tooth sensitivity as an aftermath. Your tooth may be sensitive to temperature, pressure, air, and acidic foods. This is common and will resolve on its own in a few weeks.
Gold fillings can create more sensitivity since it is a good heat conductor, and already sensitive tools will feel the impact strongly. While complications related to tooth fillings are rare and minimal, you should not ignore pain after the procedure, as this could indicate another problem.
How Long Does a Tooth Filling Take?
Generally, it will take less than an hour to get a filling. Technology allows a single appointment for most fillings, but you may require a second appointment depending on the materials used for the filling.
If getting a composite filling, you will need one visit, though, with the nature of the work put in, it may take more time. Composite fillings from an impression require a second visit to bond the filling.
Gold and porcelain fillings will require several appointments. The first appointment includes removing the cavity and making your tooth impression. We will then send the impression to the lab to create a filling.
During the next visit, we will bond the filling to your tooth.
How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last?
Like any other dental restoration, how long your fillings last will depend on your dental hygiene. With diligent oral care, you will prevent new cavities from forming on your teeth and extend the life of your filling. The durability of a filling can also vary depending on the material.
For instance, amalgam fillings will last five to 25 years, composite five to 15 years, and gold will last five to 20 years.
How Long to Eat After Composite Filling?
You have probably heard that you should not eat at least 24 hours after getting a tooth filling. However, with composite fillings, this is unnecessary as it hardens immediately after the placement of the blue UV light on your tooth.
You can comfortably eat when you leave our offices after the procedure. Still, we recommend an hour or two of waiting before eating a meal if you are still numb.
Following your composite filling procedure, avoid hard bites and chewy foods. Very cold or hot foods are also unsuitable as they may cause unwanted irritation in the affected area, delaying your recovery. You should also avoid acidic foods as your mouth is prone to infections after a filling.
Request an Appointment for Fillings Today!
Regular dental checkups save your teeth, as our team will detect cavities early. With early detection, there will be less invasive treatment.
However, you should look for early warning signs of cavities, including tooth sensitivity to temperature and certain foods, toothache, or tooth stains.
If you suspect a cavity, contact Nancy Shiba, DDS today by calling (669) 306-7669. Our team of professionals will schedule an appointment to prescribe the best dental solution for your dental issue.