According to the American Dental Association, more than 26% of adults in the United States have untreated dental caries. It’s entirely possible that some of those people have this problem because they don’t know what to expect during a dental filling procedure. Not knowing can lead to fear.
Dr. Stephen Hiroshige and his staff know that many people have a fear of the dentist. But, we also know how important it is to treat cavities, and the sooner the better! Without a dental filling, a cavity, a chipped tooth, or a cracked tooth can become a bigger problem than it needs to be.
There are several reasons Dr. Hiroshige may recommend a dental filling. The most common one is dental caries, or tooth decay. Otherwise known as having a cavity, dental caries begins with a weakening of your tooth’s enamel that allows bacteria to penetrate your tooth’s surface.
The bacteria can cause mineral loss and eventually, can lead to an infection. Untreated tooth decay can be the beginning in a cascade of oral health issues. Depending on the location of the cavity, your tooth’s root can be affected. You may eventually need a root canal or other, more invasive procedure than a simple dental filling.
In addition to cavities, chips and cracks in your teeth can also be repaired with dental fillings. A chip or crack provides an opening for bacteria.
When you come in for a dental filling, we begin by applying a numbing gel to your gums. In some cases, the numbing gel is enough, but most of the time, it’s followed by an injection to further numb your mouth.
The next step depends to some degree on where your problem is located. It may be on the surface of your tooth, on the biting surface of one of your back teeth, or near the root of your tooth, and each location requires a slightly different approach. For example, a cavity near the root of your tooth takes a bit longer because it’s deeper than a surface cavity, and you’re likely to need a bit more anesthetic because it’s near the nerves of your teeth.
Once your mouth is prepared, Dr. Hiroshige cleans away the decay if you have a cavity or begins to repair the chip or crack. If the sound of the drill he uses is distressing, you may be more comfortable listening to music, an audiobook, or a podcast through headphones. That way, you won’t hear the drill and may remain more relaxed.
After any decay is removed, Dr. Hiroshige sterilizes the area and fills it with composite resin, which is similar-looking to your tooth, so it isn’t very noticeable. He uses an ultraviolet light to harden it.
Once the decay is gone and the tooth is filled, it’s time for a bite check and a polish.
You may feel some discomfort as your anesthetic wears off, and your tooth may be slightly more sensitive than usual for a day or two. But, if you feel pain or the area swells, get in touch with us. Some mild sensitivity and discomfort are normal; pain and swelling are not.
Don’t delay your oral care because you’re worried about getting a dental filling. Most of the time the procedure takes 20-30 minutes and doesn’t involve pain. Getting a filling now could prevent the need for a more invasive procedure later.
Schedule your appointment with Dr. Hiroshige today, and enjoy good dental health!