Do’s And Don’ts After Your Tooth Filling In Houston, TX
Here’s how you should take care of your dental filling.
Photography by Pete
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had at least one dental cavity before. Over 90% of people will have at least one in their lifetime. The average person will have between 4 and 10 dental cavities. The most common treatment for cavities is a dental filling. During a cavity filling, the decay is removed before the tooth is sterilized and filled. The tooth is finally polished to help the filling feel natural. Most dental fillings take between 30 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the cavity’s size and severity.
With the filling procedure complete, you want to ensure that your dental work lasts as long as possible. How many years do fillings last? All of our fillings at Nu Dentistry Houston are white fillings and use dental composite to restore your tooth. Composite is color-matched to your tooth’s outer enamel, allowing your tooth decay treatment to blend in with the rest of your smile. The dental world has largely abandoned silver amalgam fillings due to their noticeable appearance and high mercury content. Composite fillings last an average of 5 to 10 years.
However, your filling’s longevity ultimately depends on your habits after your appointment and in the following years. Here are some quick tips for what to do and avoid so that your cavity filling lasts as long as possible:
Check your bite. At the end of your visit, the dentist will have you check how well your bite fits together and make any adjustments as necessary. However, sometimes a filling needs testing in the field. If your tooth doesn’t feel balanced and comfortable when talking or eating, please let us know and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Wait to eat or drink until the local anesthesia wears off. Composite fillings are hardened immediately in the dental office and don’t need time to set as silver fillings do. However, it can still be easy to burn your mouth or bite your cheek or tongue without noticing.
Take a pain reliever if you have any discomfort after your treatment. Dental fillings help take care of any cavity pain. However, it’s normal for your tooth to be sensitive in the first few days following any tooth decay treatment, whether it’s a simple filling or a more extensive dental crown or root canal. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol can help while your tooth recovers.
Follow your dentist’s instructions for after-care. Ultimately, your dentist knows what’s best for your smile. If you are given any special directions, we always recommend sticking to them as best you can.
Skip out on brushing or flossing. With a new filling, it’s important to maintain your regular oral hygiene routine to prevent any cavities from returning. Your filling will have already been set, so it won’t get damaged or change shape by brushing or flossing your teeth.
Drink hot or cold drinks. For a few days after your appointment, you should avoid consuming anything hot or cold that could cause any sensitivity or discomfort. However, once your tooth adjusts to the filling, you can go back to your regular cups of coffee in the morning.
Ignore lasting pain. Mild discomfort or sensitivity is expected for a few days after your appointment. However, please call our dental office if you have any persistent pain or inflammation after a week or more.
Grind your teeth. Bruxism, or the chronic clenching and grinding of your teeth, is a common dental problem, especially when patients are asleep. While it may seem relatively harmless, it can put more pressure and force on your dental filling than it can stand. Bruxism can wear down the filling quickly and even cause it to crack or break. If you have a teeth-grinding problem, we recommend investing in a nighttime mouthguard.
What To Do For Temporary Fillings
With root canals, it’s common to have a temporary filling to help seal and fill the tooth before a more permanent dental crown is placed. Temporary fillings are also common for emergency treatments or large cavities that may require several visits. These fillings use less durable materials and weaker bonding cement, making it easier to remove your filling and replace it with the final restoration.
Can a temporary filling last for years? No. As their name suggests, these fillings are only meant to be placeholders while your permanent restoration is being made. You typically shouldn’t keep your temporary filling in place for more than a couple of weeks to a few months. Otherwise, you risk the dental work falling out, cracking, or breaking and making your tooth vulnerable to further tooth decay and cavities. To keep your temporary filling in good condition while your final crown or dental work is prepared, please follow these simple do’s and don’ts:
Do schedule a second appointment. It’s always better to replace your temporary filling as soon as your dental crown can be ready. The longer you wait, the more you risk your filling becoming damaged or falling out (which can eventually lead to further tooth decay.)
Don’t eat on the side of your filling. If you can, eat only on the side of your mouth opposite your dental work. While your temporary dental work can stay secure if you eat with it, it’s best to limit the amount of force or pressure you put on your filling.
Do be careful when brushing or flossing your teeth. While you shouldn’t skimp on your oral hygiene, you’ll want to be gentle with your temporary filling. We recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush if you can. You should also take your time when flossing because you don’t want the dental floss to catch on the filling’s edge and accidentally pull it free.
Don’t eat hard or sticky foods. Since temporary fillings are weaker than regular composite fillings, they are more susceptible to cracking, breaking, or falling out with enough force. Until you can come in for your final dental crown, we recommend sticking to softer and non-sticky foods. Some of the top foods to avoid are:
- Hard candies
- Gum and gummy candies
- Peanut butter
Do follow your dentist’s instructions. Like with any regular filling, our dentist will give you any special instructions to help make your time after your appointment go smoothly.
Do see your dentist if your filling falls out. To prevent any complications, it’s always best to have your temporary filling replaced as soon as you can. Luckily, it’s relatively quick and straightforward to place a new temporary filling. Just be careful with your eating and dental hygiene so that this new filling lasts until your crown is ready.
Why Does My Filling Hurt After Years?
If your dental filling starts hurting several years after its placement, it’s most likely reached the end of its lifespan. Once an older filling loosens or breaks, it’s common for your tooth to feel sensitive as the tooth underneath becomes infected. As the cavity deepens in the tooth, it can eventually reach the nerve, turning your sensitivity into a toothache.
How do I know if I need my fillings replaced? Besides tooth pain, there are a few other signs to look for if your filling is at the end of its lifespan:
- Your tooth starts feeling different, such as with chips or roughness
- Your mouth doesn’t close as snugly and comfortably as it should
- Eating may be uncomfortable
- Your filling is discolored
- You can visibly see your filling is loose
Do you need to see one of our dentists about your dental filling? Please don’t hesitate to call our office and schedule an appointment today.
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