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How to Protect Your Dental Filling
You may have heard people around you complain about broken or failed fillings that need repairs. You may be wondering, “How did that happen?”
What people do not understand is: Although dental fillings are an excellent way to restore a decayed tooth, they hardly last a lifetime. There are ways to protect the dental filling and extend their longevity significantly.
Importance of dental fillings
If neglected, tooth decay can extend beyond the tooth enamel and bore down into the softer parts of the tooth. Once the decay hits the pulp (containing nerves and blood vessels), it is nearly impossible to use tooth fillings – root canals or tooth removal are the only alternatives. This is why dental professionals recommend dental fillings for cavities before they worsen.
During the tooth restoration, the dentist will clean all the decay in the hole of the teeth and replace it with a filling material. This restores the normal shape, appearance and function of the teeth. After the restoration, the filling will prevent bacterial invasion and inhibit further decay.
Types of Dental filling materials
There are different types of filling materials. To choose or recommend the best material, dentists take note of the size of the cavity, the position of the tooth and cost of the materials.
Amalgam or silver filling is durable and cheaper than other materials but does not blend in well with the tooth. A composite filling is preferred because they can blend in with the remaining teeth, but they are not as durable as amalgam fillings. Gold and porcelain fillings are the most expensive but have the highest durability.
When does a filling need to be replaced?
According to the American Association of Endodontists, when you start experiencing sensitivity to cold or heat or acute pain when you bite or chew, there may be a crack or damage in the filling. If the restored tooth feels irregular or rough, the filling may have chipped. In some cases, a part of the filling may fall off while eating.
If you notice any of these signs, you need to contact your dentist immediately. During regular dental evaluations, it is common for dentists to find a cracked or leaky filling before their symptoms appear.
How to protect your dental filling and make it last
Caring for your dental filling is like the necessary care for protecting your teeth against cavities. Here are steps you should take, whether you have fillings or not:
- Brush your teeth carefully at least twice daily using fluoride toothpaste
- Ensure you floss daily, especially after meals
- Reduce the consumption of sugary, sticky snacks or drinks
- Wash your mouth regularly with alcohol-free, antibacterial dental rinses to reduce bacteria
- Stay away from tobacco use, and reduce teeth staining foods such as tea and coffee – ensure you rinse your mouth after taking them
- Choose water instead of acidic drinks such as sodas and juices
- Visit a dental office twice a year (or according to your dentist’s recommendation) for routine checkups and cleaning
Sticking with these strategies will help protect your dental filling and reduce the need for replacements.
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