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27 Jan 2022

Filling: 10 things you probably didn’t know

We have all had a filling done at some time or another. Surely, at some point in your life, you have had to go to the dentist urgently because of severe pain in a tooth.

After several sleepless nights and having tried all kinds of remedies to relieve the pain, you get the diagnosis from your trusted dentist: the tooth needs to be filled.

What is a filling and what does it involve? We often take some things for granted, but we don’t really have a complete picture of what a filling is or what it consists of. In this post from Nart Dental Clinic in Barcelona we are going to solve all your doubts about this very common treatment.

10 frequently asked questions about dental fillings

One of the best ways to learn about something is to read and inform yourself about it. Surely, if you are considering a dental filling treatment, you have some doubts that you want to solve.

What is a dental filling?

A dental filling (also known as an obturation) is a dental treatment classified within conservative dentistry that aims to repair the damage caused to a tooth.

Having a very sensitive tooth and experiencing severe pain when chewing, speaking or even breathing is usually an inevitable symptom that a filling is needed to repair the damage.

Filling is usually performed on teeth that have been damaged by tooth decay. If this treatment is not applied in time, the tooth deteriorates and can affect the viability and survival of the tooth.

How much does a filling cost?

The price of a dental filling usually depends on each case and the situation of the damaged tooth. Therefore, it is advisable for the dentist to assess each case individually. Prices can vary from €50 to €150.

What does the filling consist of?

Dental filling treatment usually lasts approximately one hour and is divided into several phases. In the first stage, a local anaesthetic must be applied to the affected area to prevent the patient from suffering pain during the treatment.

Next, the dentist must isolate the affected tooth to prevent the rest of the teeth from being affected. It is important to be very careful in this process and try to be as aseptic as possible.

Once isolated, the affected part must be filed and polished to prevent the infection from spreading to the nerve and/or root. For this reason, this procedure is also known as obturation.

The hole made in the tooth during the polishing process must be filled with a biocompatible material (usually composite). The filling is then checked to ensure that it does not affect the patient’s bite and filed again if necessary.

How long does a filling last?

Depending on the patient’s daily habits, a filling may last longer or shorter. As a general rule, it has a lifespan of approximately 10 years. Some of the factors that have a direct impact on the durability of fillings are:

– The area in which it is located.
– Patient’s lifestyle habits.
– Extent of infection.
– Type of patient’s bite.

Healthy oral habits and proper hygiene not only favour the health of your mouth but can also have a direct impact on the durability of your fillings.

According to Semana magazine, foods rich in zinc (such as fish, seafood, red meat, eggs, lentils and nuts) help to maintain a healthier and cleaner mouth.

What to do if a filling falls out?

If you detect that a filling has fallen out, the first thing you should do is go to the dentist quickly. Partly because the tooth is unprotected and can be a source of infection. Our saliva can contain up to 80 million bacteria, according to the BBC.

When the filling falls out, it is advisable to call the dentist urgently to make an appointment. During the period in which the patient is without a filling, it is advisable to brush the affected area more gently and apply mouthwash whenever possible.

Do you anaesthetise during the filling?

In this type of treatment, anaesthesia is always applied to avoid any kind of discomfort. Otherwise, the patient would suffer pain when the affected area is filed or the tooth is filled.

The anaesthesia applied is local and lasts long enough for the dental specialist to carry out the treatment.

What material is a filling made of?

To make it easier for the patient to lead a normal life, the filling is made, in most cases, of biocompatible material. This material allows the patient to lead a normal life.

Can I bleach a filled tooth?

Fillings do not usually change colour during whitening, so if you have fillings in your front teeth, it is possible that the shade will be uneven. In these cases, it is recommended to change the fillings to match the shade of the whitening or to have veneers applied.

Does a filled tooth lose sensitivity?

Over time, it is possible that a filled tooth can cause sensitivity problems and pain. If the tooth is brushed too hard and/or too aggressively, the filling will wear away and part of the area will be exposed.

In this type of situation, the tooth can cause some sensitivity and discomfort for the patient. In these cases, it is advisable to visit the dentist so that he/she can check the affected area and assess whether it is advisable to apply a new filling treatment.

What happens if a filled tooth still hurts?

In some cases, it is possible that the patient may continue to suffer some pain in the days following the filling. This happens when we overload the operated tooth and, as it is more sensitive, inflammation may occur.

It may also happen that the bite is slightly out of sync during the days following the operation. The filling is simply a material that is added to the tooth.

After the treatment, the dentist will file and polish the filling to make it perfect. Although it is normal that, during the first few days, it feels a little strange.

If this discomfort persists, we recommend that you see a specialist so that he/she can check the filling and assess whether it is necessary to intervene.

How long does a filling take?

The dental filling procedure lasts approximately one hour (the duration may vary depending on the complexity of the case or the situation of each patient). It is a very common treatment so it does not usually lead to any problems.

Do you have any more questions about dental implants? You can contact our dentists to clarify any questions you may have. We will be happy to help you.

Dra. Anaïs Ramírez Sebastià

Dr. Anaïs Ramírez Sebastià is a specialist in Endodontics and Restorative Dentistry. She holds a degree in Dentistry from the UIC, a PhD in Dentistry and a master's degree in Endodontics. She currently teaches as an associate professor at UIC in the Department of Endodontics and Restorative Dentistry. Dr. Anaïs is also member of the Spanish Society of Endodontics and regularly publishes in national and international specialised journals.

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