Dental fillings are used in the restoration of teeth that have been damaged due to tooth decay or injuries. It is one of the most frequently done procedures in the dental clinic and is commonly done by general dentists and specialists alike. While the procedure itself is relatively simple and straightforward, dental fillings can sometimes result in symptoms like pain and sensitivity in some people.
Types of Dental Fillings
- Amalgam – Made from silver alloy, amalgam fillings were once the most commonly used filling material. After the mercury content used in the filling was deemed too harmful for use in dentistry, amalgam alloys have consistently gone down in popularity among dentists and patients alike. However, they still remain one of the cheapest, strongest and most durable forms of dental filling.
- Dental Composite – Composites are a tooth-colored filling material that are currently the most commonly used type of dental filling. Dental composites are less durable than amalgam alloys and are best suited for small to medium sized dental cavities. Where dental composites lack in strength, they make up for in terms of esthetics. Other types of dental fillings that are used less commonly include glass ionomer cement, which releases fluoride and is used mostly in children, metals like gold, and ceramic fillings that have better esthetic value than dental composites.
What Type of Problems Occur with Dental Fillings?
Problems associated with dental fillings can occur in the form of pain or tooth sensitivity, which mostly manifests after contact with pressure, sweet foods, air or temperature changes. Dental sensitivity due to placement of a tooth filling may resolve on its own within a few days. If pain or sensitivity persists for more than two to four weeks, patients are advised to get in touch with their dentist to resolve the underlying issue.
- Pain/Sensitivity upon Biting Down: After the anesthesia wears off, the patient may notice pain upon biting down on the tooth with the dental filling. This may be due to an uneven bite that occurs when the filling placed onto the tooth is too high compared to the rest of the teeth. The dentist reshapes the filling to reduce its height, until the patient can no longer feel any discomfort upon biting down on the tooth. Pulpitis, or inflammation of the tooth pulp, can also be a cause for pain or sensitivity after a dental filling. Pulpitis may occur as a result of the heat produced during the removal of the decayed part of the tooth, which is done with a dental drill. Pulpitis also occurs as a result of infection, such as in cases where the decayed part of the tooth is not removed properly before placement of a filling material. With reversible pulpitis, the pulp has the capacity to heal and get better with the passage of time. In some instances, the patient may experience a persistent throbbing pain instead of an intermittent one after getting a tooth filling. This occurs in cases of irreversible pulpitis, when the pulp is unable to heal on its own and the patient may need a root canal treatment to eliminate the pain.
- Sensitivity due to Temperature Changes: Tooth sensitivity due to changes in temperature can occur while consuming hot and cold foods. Sensitivity that lasts for just a few seconds and goes away upon removal of the stimulus can be treated with desensitizing gels and toothpastes. Pain or sensitivity that lasts for a longer period of time and doesn’t go away spontaneously may be a sign of pulp or nerve damage, which may need a root canal treatment.
- Allergic Reactions: While rare, allergic reactions to traditional filling materials like amalgam – a silver and mercury alloy – have been reported. The allergic response is usually due to the mercury component of the alloy, and manifests as typical skin allergic reactions like itching and rashes.
Other Types of Problems Associated with Dental Fillings
Even a simple procedure like tooth filling requires the expertise of a well-trained dentist. Poorly done dental fillings can result in unnecessary pain and discomfort to the patient, and may even aggravate the condition of the tooth.
- A dental filling that is too small for the cavity prepared on the tooth or one that is not bonded properly to the edges of the cavity can potentially become cause for further decay of the tooth. Gaps at the edges of the filling can cause bacteria to seep into the cavity and become a breeding ground for potential infections, leading to increased chances of decay.
- A dental filling that is too large compared to the size of the cavity can weaken the structural integrity of the tooth and make it more susceptible to fracture. Teeth with large fillings should ideally be capped with a dental crown to lend more strength to the overall tooth structure.
- Smoothening out the rough edges around a dental filling is an essential part of the procedure. It ensures easier cleaning of the areas around the filling and prevents the accumulation of plaque on the surfaces of the tooth and the filling.
- An improperly done dental filling may occasionally crack, break or even fall out. Such damage to the filling may occur due to injury, biting down onto hard items or even while playing sports. Individuals who suffer from habitual grinding or clenching may also need their dental fillings to be replaced regularly due to extensive wearing away. Professional intervention should be obtained immediately upon discovery of a fractured or broken dental filling.
Minor sensitivity after getting a tooth filling usually goes away on its own, and can be minimized by avoiding foods and drinks that aggravate the problem. Using desensitizing toothpastes has also proven to be very helpful in patients who suffer from post-treatment tooth sensitivity.
Maintaining good oral hygiene even after getting dental fillings is important in order to ensure the success and longevity of the filling. If problems with your tooth filling persist for longer than a few weeks, get in touch with us at River Rock Dental and allow our expert staff to take care of you.