Virtually every person will experience a need for a dental filling at some point in their lifetime; in fact, the average adult has about seven of them. So what is it and how does it help? When a tooth becomes broken, cracked, or chipped, the resulting hole or missing tooth portion or enamel must be dealt with in order for the overall tooth to function properly and to prevent bacteria from getting in and causing further problems. A dental filling is a material that fills in the places the tooth portion is missing and restores the overall tooth to good working order and appearance. When Might You Need Fillings? Dental fillings are so common because they are the primary means of treating cavities, before they intensify to the point they necessitate crowns or root canals. This makes regular dental visits essential, so that Dr. Le can catch the warning signs of decay early. So if you feel pain, increased sensitivity, or have another cause for concern, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Other instances when you may need fillings include: when your teeth are broken or cracked when the enamel of a tooth is chipped when your teeth are eroded due to excessive acid in your diet, or worn down with age. Why Bunker Hill Dentistry? We are dental filling specialists whose mission is to keep your teeth looking beautiful and functioning perfectly. Our fillings are 100% mercury-free and we don’t use silver amalgams. Enjoy a serene office environment, from our relaxing chairs and treatment rooms to our friendly staff, for the best experience at the dentist you can have. Dental Filling | Before and After Dental Filling Options Due to their affordable cost and ease of installation, amalgam (silver) and composite fillings are the two most commonly used filling materials. However, amalgam fillings are made up of roughly 50% mercury, which is a toxic metal that gives off vapor that can be absorbed into the brain and the kidneys with negative consequences. On the other hand, resin composite fillings are made of a combination of plastic and ceramic compounds. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we use only resin composite fillings in our practice. Benefits of Composite Fillings Composite fillings are an excellent choice for a variety of reasons: Natural looks: Because they’re tooth-colored to match the rest of your teeth, composite fillings are much more appealing to the eye. Maximum tooth preservation: Often, less drilling is required to install composite fillings than amalgams, because the resin chemically bonds to the surface of the tooth. Good support: Resin’s strong adhesion also makes composite fillings durable and resistant to fracture in most applications. Safe: Although the Food and Drug Administration deems mercury safe for amalgam fillings, it can build up, or bioaccumulate, in the body through vapor released from amalgam fillings. Composite fillings contain no mercury and are a safe alternative to patients with allergies or sensitivities to any of the ingredients in amalgams. Lower sensitivity: Amalgam fillings are also known to make teeth more sensitive to hot and cold, as the metal alloys are very conductive. Composite fillings do not have this risk. What Happens During a Dental Filling Procedure? Before beginning, the affected area is numbed using a topical anesthetic. Dr. Le then cleans the tooth, removing any bacteria and decay that is present. Once the preparations are complete, Dr. Le will use composite material to fill the spaces revealed once the bacteria is removed. These additions are dried immediately using a handheld tool. Multiple teeth can be filled in a single visit, if necessary. When all affected teeth have been treated, the bite is tested multiple times to ensure overall comfort. Fillings Post-Treatment Care & Maintenance After your treatment, you might have a little discomfort in the nearby gum tissue or treated tooth itself that can be treated with an over-the-counter painkiller. The numbing agent can also take up to three hours to wear off, so even though the composite hardens before you get up from the dental chair, it’s best to wait to eat until you regain full feeling in your mouth so that you don’t accidentally bite your tongue or cheek. You may experience some sensitivity to very hot or cold foods for a few days. If so, simply avoid these until the issue resolves. If it doesn’t go away within two weeks, you should contact the dentist. It’s also recommended to avoid hard, sticky, and sugary foods with new fillings. Your bite may feel different, as well. Although Dr. Le will ask how it feels before you leave your appointment, if you get home and feel like your bite is uneven, simply come back in. The doctor can adjust the filling to where your bite feels normal again. With good dental hygiene and regular dental exams, small composite fillings can last 20 years or more, thanks to advancements in the technology. But fillings can crack or wear away with time and use, so Dr. Le will assess their state at each checkup. Dental Fillings and Other Treatments Here’s how fillings work in relation to other dental treatments: Metal braces: Cavities while wearing braces are not uncommon, as food can get caught behind wires and lead to bacteria buildup and decay. Usually, a tooth can be filled without the need of removing wires and/or brackets, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Invisalign: Because Invisalign trays are easily removed, they don’t present any difficulty for the dentist accessing a tooth that requires a filling. The fit shouldn’t be affected, either. However, some Invisalign wearers report soreness from the trays after having a tooth filled, so it’s certainly better to avoid cavities during Invisalign treatment. Veneers: Veneers are a cosmetic treatment that work best on healthy teeth that have not been filled. The composite resin would need to be removed before placing a porcelain veneer over a filled tooth. Teeth whitening: Another cosmetic treatment, teeth whitening should be done prior to having fillings put in because whitening products don’t work on composite fillings. So by having the whitening done first, you can then match the dental filling to the new color of the rest of your teeth. Combine Fillings with Other Treatments for a Full Mouth Restoration Dental fillings are one of the most popular treatments under the umbrella of restorative dentistry – treatments with the goal of restoring the look and function of your mouth. Fillings can be used together with other treatments, such as crowns and bonding, for a more impressive transformation. Learn more about our restorative dentistry services. Make An Appointment at Bunker Hill Dentistry! Don’t wait to enjoy the benefits of an affordable, caring, state-of-the art dental practice in Houston, TX. Book an appointment so we can fix your broken, chipped, or eroded teeth. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? Read how to prepare for your first visit in our FAQs.