Do your teeth have visible cavities? Are you experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain? If so, it is time to contact Valencia Advanced Dentistry at Copperhill Smiles, a skilled Santa Clarita-based dental practice. If only the enamel is affected, we can recommend dental fillings. The dental filling procedure involves removing and repairing the affected tooth. It prevents further decay and restores your teeth’s appearance and functionality. If left untreated, your symptoms can result in further tooth damage, loss, or more extensive and costly dental work. Continue reading this article to learn what dental fillings are, the steps involved in the procedure, its cost, and how to take care of fillings.

A Brief Overview of Dental Fillings

When you have a cavity, your Santa Clarita dentist can recommend a filling to repair and restore your tooth. It helps preserve your damaged tooth and prevent its loss.

Tooth fillings are prevalent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 90 percent of adult Americans have had a tooth cavity. While filling is a routine treatment, it plays a significant role in maintaining oral health in adults and children.

Untreated decay can result in severe issues like dental infections and increased tooth pain and sensitivity. Tooth decay continues to progress with time, and in its later stages, it can damage or weaken your tooth so seriously that more invasive treatment like extraction is required. Luckily, a filling in the early stages can save your tooth, preventing tooth loss.

Your dentist can also use dental fillings in the following cases:

  • To restore your eroded or worn-out tooth from misuse like biting hard substances and tooth grinding.
  • Broken or injured teeth where your enamel has chipped off, exposing your tooth to decay.

How Do You Know You Need a Tooth filling?

This section discusses how to tell if you could require dental fillings. If you are experiencing one of these issues, consider consulting your physician as soon as possible. The sooner you solve dental issues, the less chance you have of requiring more expensive and invasive restorative procedures.

Experiencing Toothache

A toothache could be the most common sign of needing a tooth filling. If you are experiencing discomfort in particular areas while chewing, it could be the initial stage of tooth decay. If left untreated, you might experience discomfort without even chewing.

Visible Holes in the Teeth

If you have a visible hole in your tooth, it indicates that you need a filling. Plaque buildup and bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel, creating cavities (small holes). If left untreated, a cavity can worsen and eventually cause tooth loss.

Although a cavity can happen anywhere on your teeth, it is more likely to develop on your premolars and molars’ chewing surfaces. These surfaces are more challenging to brush and floss.

Cavities on the front teeth will manifest as white or brown spots.

Sensitivity to Cold and Hot Foods and Beverages

You should also visit your dentist immediately if the tooth is sensitive to cold or hot temperatures. The enamel protecting the tooth from decay has worn out, exposing the dentin. When your tooth's dentin comes into contact with cold or hot beverages or foods, it can result in discomfort or pain.

Teeth Discoloration

If you realize your teeth are turning brown or yellow, it is crucial to visit your dentist immediately. Dental fillings can prevent further discoloration and restore your teeth’s natural color.

Your Existing Dental Filling Has Cracked

If you have had issues with cavities and have fillings, they can wear out or crack over time. The crack can trap contaminants, bacteria, and food debris and cause tooth decay to start again.

Tooth Craze

Your dentist can use tooth-colored filling material to cover craze lines and restore your teeth’s appearance. Craze lines are vertical cracks in your enamel caused by stress on your tooth. It can be due to a lifetime of chewing and activities like tooth grinding, biting your fingernails, and clenching.

Other signs that you need a tooth filling include the following:

Foods get struck between specific teeth.

  • Your floss tears in a specific spot.
  • A rough or broken tooth.
  • Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
  • Facial swelling.

Diagnosing Tooth Damage for Dental Filling

Before recommending dental fillings, your dentist will assess the severity of your tooth decay and the pain symptoms.

Your doctor will integrate an X-ray and a visual assessment to make a diagnosis. The imaging test tells them the extent and location of your tooth decay.

Additionally, they can check for plaque buildup to see whether decay has begun underneath your gum line.

Types of Dental Fillings

There are various types of tooth fillings available today, including:

Silver Amalgam Dental Fillings

Silver amalgam fillings are the most common types of dental fillings. They are not just silver but also consist of minerals like:

  • 50% of mercury.
  • 50% of silver, zinc, copper, and tin.

It is popular among dental practices because it is robust, cost-effective, and durable (lasting over twelve years). It is also effortless for dentists to place into tooth cavities and does not contaminate saliva or blood.

Some of its cons include the following:

It is not aesthetically attractive, making it unsuitable for highly visible teeth.

The material can expand and contract, causing the tooth to crack.

The fluctuations can also create a space between your tooth and the filling that can trap bacteria and food debris, increasing the likelihood of developing new cavities.

While the available evidence does not show that exposure to mercury from silver amalgam will result in adverse health effects in the general population, mercury exposure can pose a higher health risk for the following groups of people:

  • Women planning to conceive.
  • Expectant mothers and their developing fetuses.
  • Lactating mothers and their newborns.
  • Children below six.
  • Individuals with neurological health conditions.
  • Patients with kidney disease.
  • People allergic to mercury or other components of silver dental amalgam.

Composite Dental Fillings

Composite dental fillings are made of a plastic material and resin that are placed into your tooth cavity while soft before being hardened using curing light.

Your dentist can match composite fillings’ color to your existing teeth’s shade, making it hard for people to tell whether you have the composite filling.

However, it is more expensive than silver amalgam. You should also replace your composite fillings after five to ten years.

Ceramic Fillings

Ceramic fillings are aesthetically attractive and durable. Although they are more costly than other kinds, they are more resistant to abrasion and staining than composite resin and tooth-colored ones.

The downside of using porcelain ceramic instead of composite is that it is more brittle and should be strengthened more to prevent breakage. That means your dentist should make the tooth area bigger to make room for the additional bulk.

Glass Ionomer Dental Fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are ideal for minors whose teeth are changing. The fillings release fluoride, which protects their teeth from further decay.

They are less durable than composite resin and are more likely to wear out or crack. Also, they do not precisely match the tooth color.

Gold Fillings

Typically, these fillings are costly and uncommon. Finding a dental health professional who will recommend gold fillings can be challenging. Fitting the gold filling can take at least one dental visit.

Gold fillings are strong, do not corrode, and can last up to twenty years.

Your dentist is the best person to assist you in deciding on the suitable material for your dental fillings. Your dentist will consider your appearance, sensitivity, location of the tooth being treated, longevity, and budget. Consulting your dentist can help you feel less anxious about the dental work.

If you have additional questions about these types, consult your dentist today.

What to Expect During Your Dental Filling Procedure

First, the physician will numb your affected tooth using local anesthesia.

Second, they will use a laser, air abrasion instrument, or drill to remove the damaged area. The kind of medical equipment they use depends on:

  • The dentist’s training, investment, and comfort level in the instrument.
  • The extent and location of your tooth decay.

Next, they will test or probe the treatment site when removing decay to determine whether they have removed all the decay.

Then, they will prepare your treatment site for the dental filling by cleaning your cavity of debris and bacteria. If tooth decay is near your root, the dentist can use a glass ionomer or composite resin liner to protect your nerve.

Finally, your physician will finish your filling before polishing it.

Other additional steps required for dental fillings include the following:

  • Once your dental professional removes the tooth decay and cleans the site, they apply a tooth-colored material in layers. They will use light to cure (harden) all applied layers.
  • Finally, the dental professional will shape your dental fillings to your desired results, trim off excess material, and polish your final restoration.

What Happens After Dental Filling Placement?

After obtaining a filling, you can experience the following changes in your mouth and teeth:

Tooth Sensitivity

It is normal for your tooth to be sensitive to temperature, sweet foods, air, or pressure after your dental filling procedure. The sensitivity should go away within weeks. In the meantime, avoid the cause of your tooth sensitivity. You do not have to take painkillers.

Call your experienced dentist if the tooth is too sensitive or the sensitivity does not stop within four weeks. They can do any of the following:

  • Recommend using desensitizing toothpaste.
  • Recommend root canal.
  • Apply desensitizing agents to your teeth.

Avoid acidic drinks and foods like sticky candy, high-sugar carbs, and soda if your tooth is sensitive. Instead, consider snacking on cheese, plain yogurt, milk, fiber-rich vegetables, and fruits. They will moisten your mouth.

Also, if you eat acidic foods, wait an hour before brushing your teeth.

Feeling Pain Around Your Dental Fillings

Various reasons can cause pain following the procedure. They include the following:

  • Pain whenever you bite— The filling is affecting your bite. You should return to the dental office and have your fillings reshaped.
  • Toothache triggered pain — You can experience this type of pain if your tooth decay is deep into your tooth’s pulp. The toothache can mean your tissue is unhealthy, and you need a root canal.
  • Pain when the teeth touch—Some patients experience sharp pain and a shock feeling known as a galvanic shock after the filling placement. It is caused by two metals (one in your newly filled tooth and one in the tooth it touches) generating an electric current in the mouth. It can happen if you have a gold crown in your top tooth and a new silver amalgam filling in the adjacent tooth. The sensation will disappear within weeks.
  • Referred pain is sensitivity or pain in teeth neighboring your treated tooth. There is nothing wrong with the teeth. Your filled tooth is passing along pain signals to the surrounding teeth. The pain should disappear after two weeks.

New Dental Filling Falling Out

New dental fillings can fall out due to:

  • A fracture on your restoration from chewing trauma.
  • Contamination of the preparation before the restoration’s placement.
  • Improper procedure preparation.

Typically, older restorations are lost due to fractures or decay in your existing tooth.

Dental Filling for Children

One mistake most parents make is assuming baby teeth do not require fillings since they will fall out. Nevertheless, it is essential to fill primary teeth since they can lead to dental problems should they fall out.

Permanent teeth can emerge early if baby teeth fail to fall out naturally. It can make the permanent tooth crooked, increasing the possibility of needing extraction or orthodontic treatment to make room for your teeth. It is among the symptoms your child can experience due to a tooth cavity.

Maintain a Positive Attitude to Make Your Minor Child Comfortable

Most children are anxious about dental procedures. The best way to prepare your children is to understand the filling process so you can help them feel more comfortable.

Remain relaxed, and remember that cavities are common among children and adults. When the dentist notifies you that they have seen a cavity, do not panic. Infants pick up on their parents’ emotions.

Remember to explain the procedure. When discussing the tooth cavity with your son or daughter, avoid scary terms like “drilling.” For instance, you can refer to cavities as “sugar spots” to ease anxiety. If your child wants specifics, let your dentist answer the minor’s complex or detailed questions. Pediatric dentists know how to explain dental procedures to children in easy-to-understand, non-threatening language.

Tell the minor there are spots on their teeth that require some cleaning, but it will be an easy and less time-consuming dental visit. 

What to Expect During the Treatment Day

When you enter the dental office at Valencia Advanced Dentistry at Copperhill Smiles, our professional and friendly healthcare professionals will warmly greet you and answer your questions. Our captivating lobby is child-friendly to put your baby at ease. The dental expert will also allow them to acclimate to our office before working on the process.

If that does not have a calming effect on them, your physician will administer laughing gas or oral sedation. Then, they will remove traces of decay, fill the cavity, and seal it using ultraviolet light.

While your child's filling procedure is straightforward, ask for specific requirements and guidelines after treatment from the dentist.

How to Maintain Your Dental Fillings

Once you have dental fillings, you should take measures to prevent decay from forming around or under the filling or in surrounding teeth and to increase their durability. You should care for your dental fillings as you would your natural teeth.

These measures include the following oral hygiene practices:

  • Avoid biting down on hard objects and sticky foods— Biting on hard things like ice and candy can damage or break your teeth and dental fillings.
  • Eat a balanced diet — You should eat a balanced diet comprising veggies, fruits, scrambled eggs, tender meat, smoothies, flavored milkshakes, yogurt, tasty pasta, or soup. Ensure that you eat foods that are easy to break. Also, drink a lot of water.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brushing removes plaque and bacteria.
  • Floss once daily, and rinse your mouth using an antimicrobial mouthwash.
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year. During your regular dental check-ups, your doctor will examine your dental fillings to identify potential issues early on.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste —Brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste strengthens the enamel and prevents more decay.

The Cost of Obtaining Dental Fillings

Several factors affect the overall price of dental fillings. These factors include the following:

  • The number of teeth needing filling—The more teeth you fix, the greater the price.
  • The type of teeth requiring filling —Filling cavities in molars and premolars costs more because they are difficult to access and might require special tools.
  • Cavity size — More significant tooth decay means more material and work are needed, significantly increasing the price.
  • You could require several dentist consultations if you have existing conditions and gum infections.
  • The dental office’s geographical location.
  • Your dentist’s experience and expertise.

Generally, composite resin and porcelain fillings are more affordable than fillings made of gold or silver.

Does Insurance Cover Dental Fillings?

Fillings are not considered elective or cosmetic procedures; most insurance companies cover them.

Inquire about what your insurance plan covers. Does it cover the filling treatment alone or the whole process? For example, you could require an X-ray examination or plaque removal before the doctor fills the tooth, increasing the cost.

How to Obtain a Dental Filling at a Reasonable Cost

States offer dental care for children covered by Medicaid. Depending on your state's policy, adults can also receive dental care under Medicaid.

To make your dental procedure more pocket-friendly, you can take advantage of:

  • Dental clinics with reduced costs — Some can provide dental care on a sliding scale, at a low cost, or for free.
  • Dental schools —Teaching institutions allow students to gain experience and learn under the supervision of seasoned dentists and offer care at reduced costs.
  • Financing plans— Most established dental offices offer payment plans to make care affordable.

What is the Difference Between an Inlay or Onlay and a Dental Filling?

A filing does what it suggests it does. It fills a cavity due to trauma or decay, restoring your normal tooth anatomy and shape for easy functionality and preventing further decay and damage. It is ideal for holes formed in the enamel that have not affected the inner tooth pulp, where nerves and blood vessels are contained.

Dentists use inlays and onlays when tooth decay or damage requires more than a dental filling. You can be an ideal candidate for inlays and onlays if your tooth does not have adequate tooth structure for a filling but is not seriously damaged and warrants a crown.

Inlays are made of porcelain in a dental laboratory. Dentists cement them onto or into the tooth center, inside the cusp tips of the tooth. On the other hand, onlays covers the teeth’s chewing surfaces.

Signs You Should Replace Your Dental Fillings

Practicing dental hygiene is the most effective way to increase your fillings' lifespan. Nevertheless, it is normal for your filling to require replacement at some point.

If you visit your dentist regularly, they will monitor your existing fillings and tell you whether you should replace them before they cause issues.

Other signs that indicate it is time to replace your filling are:

  • You experience tooth sensitivity to cold or hot.
  • Your tooth hurts at the filling’s location.
  • There is visible damage to your dental filling, like a crack or chip.
  • The filling has fallen out or is loose.
  • You sustained an injury to the filling tooth.

Contact a Skilled General Dentist Near Me

Dental fillings are a practical solution if you have tooth decay. The procedure involves removing the damaged tooth and filling the space with gold, amalgam, or composite material. If left untreated, the tooth decay can continue progressing, causing sensitivity, pain, or even tooth loss. The professional Santa Clarita dentists at Valencia Advanced Dentistry at Copperhill Smiles can examine your oral health to determine whether you are an ideal candidate for the procedure and restore your tooth’s functionality and appearance.

If you have a cavity, contact us today at 661-775-7717. Our dentists can thoroughly explain the treatment process to make you comfortable. We look forward to helping you keep your oral health strong, healthy, and beautiful.