Getting a filling is one of the most common dental treatments. Although it’s a simple in-and-out procedure, this treatment can save an otherwise healthy tooth from extraction. Fillings repair damage caused by decay, chipping, and injuries.
Dental fillings have come a long way over the years. It wasn’t long ago that dark, metal fillings were the only option. While still in use today, tooth-colored materials have become more prevalent. A Family Dentist can help decide which material is best for each patient. Regardless of the material used, here’s how to properly care for a new filling:
Wait Until the Numbness Goes Away
When a patient first leaves the dentist after getting a filling, they usually have a numb mouth. It’s a good idea to avoid eating and drinking until the anesthetic wears off completely. Otherwise, the patient may end up biting the inside of their mouth. It can take several hours for normal sensations to return, depending on the size or location of the treated tooth.
Avoid Certain Foods Until the Filling Sets
Dental fillings are very robust and can withstand everyday biting and chewing. However, right after getting a new filling, it’s a good idea to wait until the filling has time to set before chomping down on overly crunchy, sticky, or chewy foods. These foods may loosen the filling or cause unwanted pain. How long should patients wait? Most people return to their normal diet within 24 to 48 hours, but some dentists recommend avoiding these foods for up to two weeks.
Brush, Floss, Rinse, and Repeat
The average filling lasts for ten years, and regular care at home will ensure the material doesn’t wear out early. Pristine oral hygiene is a must after getting a dental filling. Always brush after every meal to remove bacteria and prevent plaque buildup. Flossing protects the gum tissues from harmful pathogens, and rinsing with mouthwash further protects teeth from damage. Following a strict hygiene regimen is the best way to extend the lifespan of a filling. With proper care, some amalgam fillings can last 15 years or more.
Don’t Ignore Discomfort or Pain
Once in place, the patient shouldn’t really notice their dental filling. The site may be sensitive for a day or two after the procedure, but it shouldn’t cause any discomfort. If it hurts to eat or drink after getting a new filling, be sure to let the dentist know right away. Sometimes, these unpleasant sensations are caused by tooth sensitivity. Many adults have sensitive teeth, and this phenomenon is more common following dental procedures. A simple fluoride rinse may reduce the sensitivity.
However, tooth sensitivity is not always the reason for pain after a filling. In some cases, an uneven bite may be to blame. If this happens, the dentist will reshape the filling so that it doesn’t hit the surrounding teeth unevenly. They will also check the fitting to make sure air or water can’t get between the filling and the tooth.
A Healthy Smile Can Last a Lifetime
It wasn’t long ago that tooth extractions and uncomfortable dentures were the only treatment options for decayed teeth. Dental fillings have completely changed how people care for their smiles. It’s now possible to save most teeth with a simple filling procedure. After leaving the dentist’s office, regular care at home will ensure the patient’s restored smile will last for many years to come.