You’ve got your daily routine almost down to a science, and you probably pride yourself on your ability to get your work done, take care of your health, and enjoy time with your friends and family. You do your best to eat enough fruits and vegetables, work out a few times a week, and always brush your teeth twice a day. However, even with a diligent health routine, sometimes things don’t go the way we’ve planned and you may still end up in your dentist’s chair hearing the word “cavity”. Fortunately, cavities are easily treated and generally avoidable with the right oral health routine! However, if you’ve found yourself with a cavity or two and are scheduled for a filling, read on to learn a little bit more about how fillings work to help protect your teeth from further damage!
You’re in Good Company.
Cavities are the most common dental issue in the world, and using dental fillings as a treatment is almost as old as dentistry itself! While overall oral health has been improving in recent years, still around 91 percent of the adult population in America may have a cavity at any given point. When caught early, treatment is easy and routine, so annual dental checkups are essential in helping to treat this common problem.
How Do Fillings Work?
Fillings are aptly named because they do just that—fill a cavity (or hole) left in your tooth by decay. When your dentist finds a cavity, he or she will clear out any debris or bacteria from the hole and literally fill the space with biocompatible material, replacing the healthy structure that was lost and preventing further damage and decay from taking place. Your filling will act as part of your tooth from then on, so the material used is incredibly important. Ancient societies would try to use things such as beeswax to clog up holes in their teeth, usually with little success. For most of the 20th century, dentists used metal amalgam to fill cavities and perhaps you or a loved one still sport some shiny metal fillings in their smile! Because of the unsightly appearance of metal and common metal allergies, today’s dentists have transitioned to using tooth-colored composite resin to fill cavities. These new fillings are as strong as their metal counterparts, but come in customizable shades to match your teeth’s natural appearance.
How to Care for Your Filling
After you’ve had any medical work done, it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders on care and treatment to ensure no problems arise. Most dentists will tell you to avoid eating or drinking for a short time after a cavity is filled, but then you can resume life as normal! To avoid future cavities, make sure you brush your teeth twice daily—especially right before bedtime—and floss at least once a day. Avoiding sugary foods and using a mouthwash with fluoride are other ways to help ensure you’re giving your teeth what they need to defend against more cavities popping up!