When are dental fillings necessary?

it is estimated that from start to finish in the general population, a cavity can take about 3 years to go from early decay beginning on the surface of the tooth to a large cavity that reaches down into the nerve. If a cavity is caught early, before it breaks through the enamel, in theory it is possible to reverse it through home and dental office fluoride treatments, changes in oral hygiene care and diet. Your dentist may be willing to try and remineralize the tooth this way, before drilling and putting a filling in.  If a filling can be avoided, the tooth will be stronger for remaining intact. But it depends on when a cavity is detected and how diligent the treatment is.

There are a few signs that will indicate when a filling might be necessary.

Primary Dental Answers Questions About Dental Fillings

  • sensitivity to hot, cold and sugary foods.
  • pain when biting or chewing on a certain tooth.
  • getting food stuck in certain spots in your mouth.
  • a rough, broken or chipped tooth.
  • a dark spot on the surface of the tooth.
  • general tooth pain.
  • floss that keeps getting shredded in between certain teeth.
  • a filling that has fallen out.
  • an x-ray showing decay under the surface of a tooth.

Regular dental check-ups are a very important component in catching tooth decay in its beginning stages when it is relatively easy to address and prevent further damage.

How are dental fillings done?

If a cavity is detected and treated before it gets too close to the root of the tooth, it is generally a simple and straightforward procedure. You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the area surrounding it. Then the decayed or damaged tooth material is removed from your tooth.  If the dentist is putting a resin filling in, your tooth will then be treated with an acid gel to prepare the tooth surface for the filling material. After this is washed away the filling will be placed into the tooth. It will be shaped to match your surrounding teeth and then cured hard with a special light. The dentist will then check your bite making sure it is not too high and smooth out the surface of the filling.

Which dental fillings are best?

Several dental filling materials are available to use. They include porcelain, gold, silver amalgam, or tooth colored composite resin. The location and extent of the decay, the cost of the filling material and insurance coverage all play a part in determining which type of material to use.  Generally speaking, most dentists tend to use a composite resin material for the typical filling. Composite resin filling material offers a great all around solution as it is tooth colored, long lasting, and less expensive than some of the other materials. The dentist will be able to answer any questions you may have about each type of material and help you make the best choice for your individual situation.

Are dental fillings safe?

All filling materials must be approved by the fda in order to be used as a restorative product. So, yes, dental fillings are safe.  However, there is always a risk of a sensitivity to any product used in the restoration process. Any concerns or known sensitivities should be discussed with your dentist before the procedure to ensure the best choice possible is made for your specific situation.

How much are dental fillings without insurance?

Dental fillings are usually some of the least expensive dental procedures. The type of filling material used will determine the cost. The amount of surfaces that need to be restored on a tooth is the biggest determining factor in cost.  A small cavity on one surface of the tooth will cost less that a filling that covers large areas on the top and down two sides of a tooth. Please contact our office and we will be happy to give you an estimate on dental filling costs.

Can dental fillings fall out?

Fillings and crowns can sometimes become loose and fall out.  This is rarely an emergency situation, but the exposed tooth may be sensitive and you should contact the dentist as soon as possible. If decay is undetected and gets underneath a filling or crown it can change the shape of the tooth and as a result the filling or crown will no longer fit the tooth properly. Thus it can become loose and eventually fall out. If a filling falls out a new filling will need to be placed in the tooth to ensure as perfect a fit as possible to prevent decay from getting under it.

Do dental fillings need to be replaced?

Dental fillings are expected to last many years.  However, eventually, all fillings will need to be replaced.  Over time, pressure form constant chewing and biting can cause a filling to chip, crack or begin wearing away, allowing bacteria to enter the small spaces between the filling and the tooth. Let your dentist know if you notice any fillings that appear to be worn or cracked, or if you experience any sensitivity or pain around a filling.  Regular dental exams are important because problems with a filling can generally be detected in the early stages of wear or damage.

Why do dental fillings hurt?

Tooth pain or sensitivity after a filling is not unusual. A tooth that has just had a filling will be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures as well as the pressure of biting and chewing.  This type of pain should resolve itself within a week or two after the filling. If the pain or discomfort does not go away in a reasonable amount of time, contact your dentist. In the meantime be aware and be gentle with your tooth as it heals.

Pain can also be caused by a filling that is not fitting properly or if it has developed cracks. If you suspect this could be happening, contact the dentist as soon as possible. Pain could also be the result of an allergic reaction to the filling material used. To help avoid this, bring any known allergies to the attention of the dentist while discussing your filling options before the procedure.

Can dental fillings cause migraines or headaches?

Headaches and migraines can have a multitude of causes, however, one cause may reside in your mouth and jaw. Pain that starts in the temporomandibular joint or the muscles surrounding it can travel up to your skull and lead to a migraine.  Also, almost all headaches and toothaches are detected by one of the largest nerves in the head. Due to this connection a toothache can be a direct cause of a headache, making it doubly important to have the cause of the toothache addressed. It is unlikely that a filling in and of itself will be the cause of a headache, unless there is some sort of allergic reaction going on.  If you suspect something tooth related to your headaches, please contact the dentist to discuss the situation.

Do dental fillings contain mercury?

Dental amalgam fillings are made of a mixture of metals, about 50% of which is mercury. The fda considers amalgam fillings to be safe for adults and children 6 years and above. Dental amalgam has been used for about 150 years because it is strong and long lasting.  Most dentists are coming away from using amalgam for fillings, choosing instead to use composite resin more often.

Can dental fillings cause bad breath?

Aside from a medical condition, bad breath usually comes from the bacteria that lives in our mouth. These bacteria feed off of food particles in your mouth and then release a volatile compound which causes the odor in your mouth. Cavities or old fillings that have decay under them can definitely cause bad breath. But just having a filling in your mouth will not cause the odor.  It is the bacteria doing that. If improved oral hygiene does not seem to help the problem, have a conversation with your dentist to rule out any other causes and to make a plan to address the issue.

Are dental fillings tax deductible?

The medical expense deduction was created to help taxpayers with hefty medical expenses.  Qualified dental costs are included in this deduction. You will want to talk to an accountant or do some investigating to find out which expenses may be allowed as a deduction.