If you’re due at the dentist for a filling, take comfort in this: You’re among the 90% of Americans ages 20-64 who have some form of tooth decay. That adds up to about 175 million fillings performed by dentists every year.
Since tooth decay is such a common problem, the filling procedure is fairly straightforward. The team here at Smile Design Manhattan in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City still wants you to know what to expect when we fill a cavity.
Here’s more information about fillings and how to care for your tooth after getting one.
What’s a filling?
A filling is what it sounds like: a substance that fills a cavity in your tooth caused by dental decay. The goal of a filling is to prevent further decay in your tooth and avoid a root canal in the future.
At Smile Design Manhattan, we never use metal for our fillings — they’re either porcelain or composite.
Your dental team usually finds cavities during your routine dental exams, but you typically need to schedule an additional appointment to get the filling, which takes about an hour.
After administering an anesthetic, we drill out the decayed material and fill the tooth with layers of porcelain or composite. Then, we use a curing light to harden the filling.
Practice good oral hygiene, and your filling should last many years.
How should you care for your tooth afterward?
After the filling procedure, rinse your mouth a few times with salt water or a mouthwash with no alcohol. That helps cleanse your mouth and can reduce any bad breath that developed as a side effect from the filling.
Expect your tooth to be sore and sensitive for a day or two, and you may experience swelling around the tooth. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help relieve any discomfort.
Try not to touch the tooth or the area around it for a few days after the procedure. And definitely avoid any hard or sticky food items in that time — they may damage the filling or even knock it out. Stick to soft foods.
Hot beverages can irritate your teeth and gums after a filling procedure, so wait at least a couple of hours before drinking coffee or any other hot drink.
Monitor the filling and the area around it for signs of infection, such as increased pain or sensitivity, abnormal swelling, pus or drainage, or bad breath. If you notice any of these things, call us so we can treat the infection right away.
Once your tooth is back to normal, follow your regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist for regular visits. We check your fillings during your exam to make sure everything looks good and functions well.
If you need a filling, our team at Smile Design Manhattan is ready and willing to help. Call our office at 646-278-4579 today to schedule your appointment.