Even with an excellent at-home oral hygiene routine and regular dental cleanings and exams, you may still get a cavity. Cavities occur when your tooth enamel is compromised due to decay or trauma.
What causes a cavity?
Cavities are also called dental caries and are tiny holes in your tooth enamel. They can be caused by a combination of factors such as sugary drinks, frequent snacking, poor oral hygiene, and even the bacteria in your mouth.
Who can get a cavity?
Tooth decay and cavities are a common dental issue, especially among young children and older adults who have thinner tooth enamel.
Teenagers who wear traditional braces are also susceptible because the brackets make it challenging to clean the teeth properly, and food can get trapped easily.
What are the symptoms of a cavity?
Signs of a cavity include:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Mild to sharp discomfort to food and beverage temperatures
- Visible holes in the tooth
- Discomfort when biting down
How do you fix a cavity?
Cavities are repaired using a restorative procedure called a dental filling. Tooth fillings are a standard dental treatment and are completed in a single visit under local anaesthetic.
Dental fillings replace the section of the tooth damaged by tooth decay. Tooth fillings restore the integrity, strength, health, and functionality of the tooth as well as prevent bacteria from re-entering the area.
Do dental fillings hurt?
Getting tooth fillings does not hurt. At Lyndarum Family Dentistry, we practice gentle dentistry, ensuring your comfort, making sure you are entirely numb and at ease before beginning any dental work.
We never want you to worry about your treatment and ask, ‘do dental fillings hurt?’
If you are nervous about your treatment, we offer a range of sedation services to help alleviate your dental anxiety.
In fact, when you restore a tooth with a dental filling, you eliminate the discomfort you felt due to the cavity.
What is the procedure?
A tooth filling is a simple dental procedure. Your dentist will gently numb the decayed tooth by injecting a local anaesthetic into the area around the tooth. This also numbs the gums and jaw around the tooth, so you feel no discomfort during the treatment.
Once the site is numb, your dentist uses a dental drill to remove the decay. You may feel a slight vibration from the drill, but no discomfort.
Once the decay has been removed, your tooth is prepped for the filling material.
At Lyndarum Family Dentist, we offer you the choice of silver amalgam or tooth-coloured composite resin filling material. Amalgam is typically recommended for the molars at the back of your mouth because they experience more force when chewing food.
Composite resin is ideal for your social six front teeth that people see when you smile, but can be placed in any location in your mouth. Composite resin also preserves more of your natural tooth structure because it bonds with the tooth. The tooth-coloured filling provides you with a seamless and natural smile and eliminates some of the sensitivity that is common with amalgam fillings.
If you choose amalgam, your dentist compacts it into the cavity before shaping it to fit the contours of the tooth.
Composite resin fillings are placed in layers. Each layer is placed, shaped, and cured using an ultraviolet light.
Once the filling is placed, your bite is checked.
What should I expect afterwards?
For several hours afterwards, you may still feel numb, puffy, and tingly until the numbing agent wears off. You should also avoid drinking or eating in case you accidentally bite your tongue or cheek.
My tooth is sensitive, should I be concerned?
Sensitivity after a filling is normal and usually temporary. Triggers include:
- Air hitting the tooth
- Sugary foods
- Acidic foods and drinks
- Cold or hot drinks
- Cold foods
- Biting down
If the sensitivity doesn’t subside within a few days, contact your dentist. Causes of prolonged sensitivity include:
- An incorrect bite alignment which causes discomfort when biting down. Your dentist will check your bite and smooth the filling to ensure it lines up with the other teeth in your mouth.
- An irritated nerve can cause inflammation to the tooth’s nerve. A large cavity with a deep filling can get close to the tooth’s nerve, causing some discomfort. The nerve will heal within a few days, and the discomfort will dissipate.
- If you have a deep filling or have a tooth that had multiple fillings, you may experience pulpitis. This condition occurs when there is inflammation deep within the tooth. If it is minor, it will heal on its own. But if the nerve is damaged, your dentist may recommend a root canal to save the tooth.
What happens if I don’t fill a cavity?
If cavities are left untreated, they become larger and can lead to toothache, infection, and even tooth loss.
How do I avoid cavities?
To avoid cavities, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Floss and use a mouthwash daily. Drink plenty of water and limit sugary foods and drinks. Book semi-annual cleanings and dental exams to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Can dental fillings be used to treat other dental issues?
Tooth fillings can also be used to repair a chipped or fractured tooth or to restore a tooth’s structure, integrity, and function after a root canal.
If you have any concerns about your oral health or want to schedule a dental exam, please call us on (03) 9626 9581 to book an appointment.