patient getting fillings

When bacteria in the mouth leads to tooth decay and cavities, our Reno dentists at Absolute Dental can help stop the damage and prevent further issues with dental fillings. Fillings are a way to remove the bacteria causing the tooth decay. The damage is then fixed by filling in the area with a hard, tooth-like material.

What is the Process When Getting a Filling?

Dentist examining patient's teeth

Fillings are one of the most common dental procedures and are done using local anesthesia. The process includes the following steps:

  1. A thorough teeth cleaning is done to remove plaque that has built up and potentially caused the decay or cavities. A dental hygienist will generally complete this step first.
  2. The area of your mouth where the affected tooth is located is numbed to make sure the procedure is painless. This is most commonly done by first using a numbing gel on the gum, then a small shot of anesthesia is administered directly to the area.
  3. Once the anesthesia has kicked in, your dentist will then use a dental drill and special instruments to remove the bacteria and decay that is damaging the tooth.
  4. Next, the hole that was created by the drill is filled in with a material that will become hard. This creates a barrier that protects the tooth.
  5. After a short time, the filling is set and dried, and patients can return to normal eating and oral hygiene habits.

Why Is Anesthesia Necessary?

The nerves in our teeth are very sensitive and can cause discomfort if agitated. Oftentimes, the reason we know we have a cavity or other dental problems is we experience sudden pain or sensitivity to hot or cold in a particular tooth.

Because oral nerves can be very reactive to stimulation, anesthesia is used to prevent patient discomfort during the filling procedure. It also allows the dentist to work more thoroughly and meticulously to remove the bacterial damage knowing the patient is not feeling any pain from the drilling. Local anesthetic shots are incredibly effective and almost all patients confirm they do not experience any pain while the affected area is numb.

Some may feel a slight pinch as the shot is administered, but that is usually the only discomfort felt during the procedure. Once the mouth is numb, you will only feel pressure from the drilling and the application of the filling. The numbing sensation can last for a few hours and care should be taken when chewing at this time. You may accidentally bite down on your tongue or the sides of your cheeks unknowingly because of the lack of feeling in those areas. Your dentist will instruct you on how long you should wait before eating.

How Do You Know You Need a Filling?

Tooth needing filling

If the cavity in your tooth is not extensive or very shallow on the surface of the tooth, there may be little to no symptoms at all. This is why it’s so important to have regular dental exams to evaluate the health of your teeth and gums. Some tooth decay or cavities are not visually apparent, and can only be detected using dental x-rays.

If you are experiencing some pain in your teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist right away. If you do need a filling and try to avoid the procedure, the tooth decay will keep spreading until it reaches the nerve and a root canal will be the only option. A filling is much less invasive and will prevent further bacterial damage.

Why Fillings Can Be Intimidating

Some patients have expressed fear because of the loud drilling noise when having a filling procedure done. Also, the anesthetic shot used to numb the area can be a source of intimidation for many people. The important thing is to remember that the goal of the shot is to make the process completely painless for the patient. Even though the whine of the drill is loud, it does not hurt in any way. You’ll likely feel some pressure and smell the tooth being drilled out, but you should not experience any discomfort beyond that.

Different Types of Fillings

There are mainly two different types of fillings: composite and amalgam. There are some controversial opinions regarding amalgam fillings because they contain mercury, but Reno’s Absolute Dental professionals respect the requests and concerns of all patients and will discuss the best options available for you.

  • Composite Fillings: This is a newer filling material that resembles modeling clay and can mimic the natural color of teeth, unlike amalgam fillings. The synthetic resins harden after applied and provide a strong, long-lasting barrier to protect the tooth after the damage is drilled away. The technology used in composite fillings is advancing quickly and is expected to equal or exceed the strength and durability of traditional amalgam.

Because of general concern surrounding the use of amalgam fillings, Absolute Dental provides these resources for those who wish to dive a little further into the subject (we take no responsibility or partiality on any opinions expressed in the articles below):

If you think you may need a filling due to apparent tooth decay or a cavity, see your dentist for a full consultation. Even if you don’t suspect any issues, it’s always best to regularly see your dentist to prevent any dental problems from flying under the radar. Call us to get your appointment scheduled today!

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