Have you noticed a new sensitivity in a tooth recently, especially after eating sweet, hot or cold foods? Does one of your teeth hurt when you take a bite? If so, you might have a cavity. Don’t worry — you’re not alone. Dental cavities affect approximately 90 percent of the population. While some cavities are small and may not be noticeable to a patient until they visit the dentist, others can be quite painful.
If you think you have a cavity, you’ll need to visit your dentist to make sure it gets filled so the pain does not get worse and you can keep your tooth intact. See below for the “411” on cavity fillings so you are prepared for your dental visit:
- When is the best time to get a filling? The best time to get a filling is when tooth decay is very minimal. Often, patients do not even know they have tooth decay until they visit the dentist! Your dentist can identify decay at your regular checkups — every 6 months – by taking a look at your mouth or using x-rays. It is best to find and treat cavities before they cause discomfort so that more of the tooth can be saved.
- What exactly is a filling? A filling is a special material that dentists use to replace the tooth structure that has been lost to decay. In the past, fillings were made from a silver-mercury mixture; however, new technology has led to the development of better materials. Silver fillings can lead to tooth discoloration, tooth fracture and recurrent decay. Today’s filling material, dental composite, is an engineered material that bonds to your tooth to seal out bacteria, with the added benefit of matching your tooth color so you won’t even know it’s there!
- What is the process of filling a tooth? First, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to the affected tooth area so you will not feel any pain during the procedure.Next, he or she will remove the decayed tooth material with a drill or laser (a pain-free process, thanks to the anesthetic!). After the material is removed, your dentist will clean the affected area before filling it with the one of the replacement materials mentioned earlier. Your dentist will then examine the filling and polish any rough edges to make sure you’ll never notice it’s there. Some patients do report minor sensitivity in the tooth for the first day or two after the procedure.
- How can I prevent cavities from happening in the future? Proper brushing and flossing is the number one way to prevent cavities from forming in the mouth. By brushing and flossing at least twice per day, you remove the harmful bacteria (plaque) that create the acids which lead to tooth decay. Diet is also important — if you eat sugar frequently, you increase your risk of developing a cavity. Harmful bacteria feed on sugary, sticky foods, so it’s best to limit them.
No one wants to be told they have a cavity, or experience the discomfort that comes with tooth decay. However, despite our best efforts, cavities can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly, maintain a balanced diet and brush and floss with the proper frequency and technique. Schedule your next dental appointment at StoneCreek today!