Despite your best attempts to take care of your teeth, you may develop cavities that need to be filled. Filling a cavity is a relatively simple procedure. It is also easy to recover from and does not take very long to finish in the dentist’s office. You can prepare to have dental fillings put in your mouth by learning what they are and what benefits they can offer you as a patient.
What are Fillings?
Fillings, also called dental fillings, are made from a variety of materials that are strong, durable, and designed to look natural inside of your mouth. It used to be that dentists used mercury mixed with silver to fill cavities in people’s teeth. While mercury fillings are still used in some instances, most dentists now use other materials including composite resin.
Composite resin, plastic, and porcelain are most often used in dental practices today to fill cavities in patients’ teeth. These materials are white or off-white in color, making them more natural in appearance and easier to blend in with the look of people’s teeth.
They also last longer than mercury fillings, which can be prone to chipping, cracking, and falling out of place. When you have porcelain, plastic, or composite resin fillings put in, you may not be able to notice where they are in your teeth. They often can be smoothed so they look like they are a natural part of your teeth.
When done properly, these fillings can last for decades without having to be replaced or repaired. However, it can be important that you do your part to take good care of your fillings. To start, you may be advised to avoid eating chewy and sticky foods like taffy and gum. These candies can pull some or all of the fillings of your tooth and expose the cavity below them.
You also should brush and floss your teeth like normal. Taking good care of your teeth helps the fillings last longer and prevents infectious agents like bacteria and viruses from getting in and around them.
The Benefits of Fillings
When possible, your dentist may put in fillings rather than perform another procedure to treat cavities in your mouth. Fillings take a few minutes to put in place. They also do not require much if any use of anesthesia. In some instances, your dentist may just use a numbing gel around your tooth rather than administer numbing shots before putting in the fillings.
Fillings also require little if any recovery time. At most, your dentist may advise you to avoid eating on the side of the mouth where the fillings have been placed for the first day or two. After that, you can go back to your normal routine.
Fillings spare your teeth from having to be pulled and also stop dangerous infections from taking root in your mouth. They are made from a variety of materials designed to last for decades and look natural. Most fillings take minutes to put in at the dentist’s office.