What are Cavities and Fillings?

  • Patient visiting dentist for regular check-up and filling

What are Cavities and Fillings?

Aside from routine cleanings, dental fillings are the most common procedure performed on Americans. Diets of sugary foods and acidic drinks only lend a helping hand for the increased amount of cavities that the typical adult will have in their lifetime.

If you’re one of the strong few that refrains from indulging in those types of foods and drinks and maintains a perfect schedule of brushing and flossing, you still may end up with a cavity or two.

Aside from the typical questions of “Will it hurt?” and “When can I eat after a filling?”, most just go along with the dentist but don’t truly understand what exactly is a filling and what causes it.

So here is a brief rundown of what a cavity is and some common questions regarding them.

What is a cavity?

A cavity is a pit or defect in the tooth’s surface that is caused by acids produced by bacteria. Whether from a lack of brushing, genetic unluckiness, poor diet or any number of other circumstances, bacteria can build up over time and break down the enamel (protective top layer) of the tooth. Once this happens, the softer tooth material is exposed and further decay or softening occurs.

What is a filling?

A filling is a restorative procedure that is performed by dentists that removes decayed tooth area and protects the tooth from further decay and damage from a cavity. First, the decayed tooth material is drilled out (after local anesthetic shots) so that no further decay can occur.

Next, the surface is cleaned to prevent any bacteria from surviving. Finally, the dentist will fill the drilled out area with a filling material to restore the shape and protect the soft inner tooth.

What are fillings made out of?

Filling materials that can be used include gold, porcelain, composite resin, amalgam (metal alloy).  

How long will fillings last?

If done and cared for properly, there is no reason that a filling cannot last more than 10 years. Depending on the material used, some patients may go the rest of their lives without needing to replace their fillings.

Can you eat after a filling?

Man looking at foods you can eat after a cavity filling

After your filling, you may still be numb for a few hours (depending on your sensitivity to local anesthetics). Once this wears off, you may experience some discomfort or pain but that is common and all depends on where and how severe the cavity was.

As for when can you eat after a filling, the should be directed from your dentist because the material used in the filling will determine your recovery and eating timeline.

If a composite resin is used, then you will be cleared to eat right away because the material is hardened immediately using a special light. But if any type of metal is used, it is often recommended that you wait 24 hours until eating solid foods to allow the metal to set and fully harden.

Foods you can eat after a filling

As mentioned above, it depends on the type of material used in your filling, you may have to wait 24 hours until you can eat solid foods. Regardless of the material used, it is a good idea to refrain from eating very sticky, sharp, crunchy or hard foods for a few days.

This is just an overview of the filling process and some general answers to questions regarding cavities. It is always best to consult with your dentist for medical advice regarding your fillings. If you find yourself looking for a new dentist, we would love to have you at Loop Dental in Doral Florida. We proudly serve southeast Florida with the Loop Dental Experience for all your dental needs. Visit https://www.loopdent.com/appointment-request/ to request an appoint with us today!

By |June 5th, 2018|