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Do You Really Need a Tooth Filling?

Cavities that result from tooth decay or broken teeth may destroy your dental health. This however, can be fixed using dental fillings. The fillings are placed into the cavities or the broken areas of the tooth in order to fill up the space without removing the tooth itself. Some fillings are mixed with bonding materials to attach to the tooth well and without the risk of leakage under the filling.

Why tooth filling?

A newborn baby’s mouth is technically free from any kind of harmful bacteria. But as he spends more time in the world outside his mother's womb, he will eventually contact it through thumbsucking or biting toys. The bacteria becomes a permanent resident in his mouth that could spread and become stronger if proper dental practices are not done. This bacteria can affect the physical structure of the teeth through a thin film called plaque. The plaque eats away at teeth little by little everyday. The process is so gradual that you'll be surprised to suddenly see a decaying tooth without really noticing it before. Teeth holes are the result of bacteria destroying your teeth structure.  These holes are more commonly named today as "cavities" and dental caries. The rest of our body has this natural way of healing itself. Take for example a broken bone. The bone will naturally heal itself and "glue" the broken bones to get it back to its normal functioning. Unfortunately, teeth do not heal themselves. Once a tooth acquires a hole due to decay, it will be forever open to more infections if left untreated. This is where teeth filling comes in. Thanks to modern dentistry, it has provided a way to replace destroyed tooth portions.

Do you need a tooth filling?

Dentists don't just initiate tooth fillings. They first find out if you really need one. To do this, they perform one or two of the following:


Some cases of dental cavities can be seen through a regular check up. Most teeth show white spots to indicate decay, but not all.  So your dentist may need an instrument called "explorer" to help him determine if there are any cavities hidden in your teeth. A healthy tooth enamel is hard enough to resist the pressure of the explorer while a decayed tooth will allow the instrument to stick in slightly. Professional dental practitioners know that the explorer should be used with care since it can potentially damage healthy tooth if pressed too hard.

Detecting Dye

Cavity detecting dye is a material used to determine where a damaged dentin is. The dye will stick to decayed areas while it will just rinse off from healthy ones.

Laser Fluorescent Aids

Laser fluorescent aids are a dentist's magic wand. They can accurately detect decayed and weak tooth enamels. Difficult to reach dental areas and “for pit and fissure” areas can also be examined thoroughly through the fluorescent aids. While tooth decay makes you need a tooth filling, it isn't the only reason to get one. If you have a cracked or broken tooth or worn out teeth from nail biting, teeth grinding or Bruxism, immediately make an appointment with your dentist for a complete dental assessment.

Temporary Fillings

Your dentist may recommend you a temporary filling if the condition of your cavities requires a second visit. You may qualify for a temporary filling if:
  1. Your dentist advised the filling after a root canal treatment.
  2. Your cavity is deep and the teeth pulp is exposed.
  3. During the procedure, your dentist discovers that you need an emergency dental treatment.
Temporary dental fillings effectively reduces discomfort because of dental cavities. It seals the open portion of your dental area which exposes the pulp to more bacteria and infection. However, they aren't meant to be used as a permanent solution. Even permanent fillings need to be replaced in case of discoloration and leaking. A temporary solution isn’t meant to last and will usually wear off after a month or two. By this time, you should have changed it to something permanent.

What can I expect after a filling?

Just after having a dental filling, your gums, mouth, and tongue might be slightly numb for a couple of hours after the procedure. The reason you’ll feel this is due to the local anesthetic used to numb your mouth. Also, talking, chewing, smiling, and drinking might be a bit of a challenge at first, but don’t worry, you’ll be back to your normal self soon. Besides prevention, a timely dental filling is a critical dental procedure because it prevents further dental problems from progressing that could lead to a tooth extraction or root canal. Regular dentist visits is recommended to making sure you find any dental problems early so that if you do have problems like cavities, you can get them taken care of before a more serious conditions develops.