When it comes to our teeth, we all know what cavities are and that we want to avoid them if at all possible. But no matter how well people might take care of their teeth, a great percentage of them will, unfortunately, fall prey to decay and require a filling to restore the tooth to health.

Just like they sound, fillings “fill up” the hole in your tooth left after the dentist removes the decay. The filling seals everything up tight and prevents further damage that would be caused by the decay if it hadn’t been removed. Things like root canals, crowns, and even extractions can be prevented by early detection of decay and a good filling restoration.

There are several types of material that can be used for a filling. Years ago, amalgams were the material of choice. But because they contain mercury they’ve become less favorable. Today’s composites (a mixture of plastic and glass) are much more aesthetic, hold up as long, and require less of the tooth structure to be drilled away to make it ready for restoration.

After receiving a filling, you’ll want to avoid hot or cold liquids and eating on that side of your mouth for a few hours until the local anesthetic wears off. Some level of sensitivity is normal in the week or two after the filling is placed. If it persists, or you have discomfort when biting on it, you might need to go back for an adjustment. Adjustments are quick and easy and usually do not require you to get numb again.

The best action you can take is one that helps you avoid having the need for a filling. Regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist will do wonders to prevent decay!

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