A dental filling is used to fill a cavity (a hole that has formed in your teeth) or other damage such as a chipped tooth. Cavities get bigger over time, so the sooner they’re spotted and filled, the less likely you are to have problems later. That’s why regular check-ups are important.
Without treatment, a cavity or chipped tooth can lead to toothache, bad breath, infection, and even the fracturing or loss of your tooth.
How do you know if you need a dental filling?
People of all ages, even young children, may need a tooth filling. Perhaps you have a nagging toothache, sudden pain when you bite down, or sensitivity to hot and cold. You may even have noticed a cavity, or food getting caught in a damaged tooth.
Reasons for needing a tooth filling
- Tooth decay – Tooth decay is the most common cause of fillings. Plaque forms when bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left on your teeth by food or drink. The acids in plaque soften and dissolve your enamel (the hard-protective coating on your teeth), causing tiny holes which then grow bigger.
- Acid erosion – Your protective enamel coating can get worn away by acids in certain foods and drinks, or with some medical conditions like reflux or hiatus hernia.
- Chipping –You might have a broken or chipped tooth as part of an injury, or after eating something very hard. This can expose the inner parts of the tooth and lead to erosion over time.
- Abrasion and attrition – This is when teeth get worn, perhaps if you brush them too aggressively or if you grind your teeth.
What’s involved with a dental filling?
In some cases modern filling materials do not require tooth removal to repair the teeth, but If necessary, your dentist may numb the area to be treated, usually with injections of local anaesthetic.
Then they will remove any decayed or weakened parts of the tooth. Next, they’ll shape, clean and dry the remaining tooth so it can take the filling.
Finally, they’ll fill the cavity with an amalgam or composite filling and then check that your bite still feels right when you put your teeth together.
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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Healthcare Limited. Registered in England and Wales number: 03257078. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.