Dental cavities are most common dental ailment. Once you suspect that you need filling from the symptoms like pain in tooth, black or brown staining on tooth or self examination, then you have to schedule a visit you to your dentist who find out whether you need filling or not. There are several different kinds of methods that are used by a dentist in order to find out whether you do need a filling or not.

Dental Filling Procedure by Dentist

1. Examination for Dental Cavity — The first thing that a dentist will do is to look at the color of your teeth and whether there are any discolored spots on them. This will showcase tooth decay. However, not all spots indicate that. In order to perform this examination a dentist may use an explorer which is a metal instrument. The explorer has a sharp tip, to unearth any tooth decay. If you have tooth enamel that is healthy, then the explorer will find it hard and resistant. The dentist needs to be trained to use an explorer as it might cause great harm if the pressure applied is too much. This can go on to damage a completely healthy tooth. 

2. A dye — the dye can be used on your tooth and it will cling on to the regions of your tooth that are not healthy.

3. X-rays to check Dental Cavity — this is one of the best ways to help the dentist find out tooth decay that is underlying in the tooth. It is one of the most precise of ways to find out about tooth decay. However, occlusal cavities are not easily detected by it. If you have any fillings already done, then you might not be able to see the decay clearly on the x-ray.

4. Laser Fluorescence Cavity Discovery Tools — These small wands are able to evaluate the changes that are there due to tooth decay. They are most beneficial for regions with pit and fissure.

There is a myth that decay can be the only reason to need a filling. The other reasons are:

  1. A tooth that has developed a crack or is broken
  2. Worn out Teeth due to unusual use, such as:

           a) Nail-biting

           b) Tooth grinding also called bruxism

           c) Using teeth to open things

How Dental Cavity Is Filled By Dentist

There are two stages of fillings. First is temporary filling and second is permanent filling. Temporary filling is not mandatory in every case. It depends on many factors and the dentist decides whether you need temporary filling or straightway you need permanent filling. In case your first require temporary filling and then permanent filling then you will be required to visit your dentist twice for filling, once for temporary and then for permanent filling.

Dental Filling Procedure

1. The moment you go to a dentist for a filling, the first thing that the dentist does is to anesthesia the region.

2. The second step is to remove the decaying material from the tooth using either a hand tool or a drill. Then air abrasions and lasers are used to brush out the decay.

      a)  The drill used by a dentist is called a hand piece and it has metal cones on it which are known as burs. These are able to reach through the hard enamel and get to the decay. The burs are in several different shapes and sizes. The size, shape of the burs is chosen by the dentist depending on the amount and location that the decay is in.

      b)  The first step is for the dentist to go ahead and use the high speed drill. This is the whirring sound that one usually hears at a dentist. The drill is used to remove the decay and the worn out enamel of the tooth. The moment the drill reaches the second layer of the tooth called the dentin, the dentist needs to slower down the speed of the drill. The reason being dentin is far softer than the enamel.

      c)  The moment the decay has been removed the dentist will make the cavity in the tooth of the right shape to be able to take the filling. There are different shapes that the dentist needs to use in order to be able to ensure that the filling remains in the cavity. Then the dentist may go on to use a base or a liner to give ample protection to the tooth’s pulp. This is where you will find the nerves located. This is made of several different kinds of materials like composite resin, glass ionomer, zinc oxide and eugenol, or any other suitable material.

      d)  Some of these materials are able to give out fluoride which will protect the tooth from any more decay.

3. In case the dentist is using a bonded filling, then they will further have to prepare the tooth with an acid gel before the final filling is placed in it. The use of this technique called etching makes tiny holes in the tooth's enamel surface. This is done so as to enable the filling to be able to bond tightly to the tooth. Bonded fillings are far better as there is less of a chance of the risk of leakage or decay under the filling. The etched surface of the tooth and the filling material go on to form a mechanical bond. Composite fillings usually require bonding.

Procedure for Using Composites

Certain kinds of fillings are hardened using a special light. When the dentist is using this kind of filling then they will stop several times to use a bright light on the resin. This goes on to hardens the material and makes it strong.

Lastly, after the filling has been fixed into place, the dentist will use burs to give the tooth the final finish and polish.

Need for Temporary Fillings

The dentist may decide to give you a temporary filling. These are most times white, off-white or gray. The temporary filling is opted for if:

  1. Your treatment needs more than one appointment.
  2. Your dentist wants to give the tooth time to heal.
  3. You have a deep cavity and the pulp is exposed. This includes the nerves and blood vessels.
  4. You need urgent dental treatment.

The idea is that a temporary filling might be beneficial as it might make the tooth feel good. The filling goes on to seal the tooth and not allow it to come in contact with bacteria and also lessens the sensitivity.

Temporary fillings most of the times have Eugenol as a material used in them. This is got over-the-counter as a toothache remedy. Eugenol is also found in the oil of cloves and this has been used since times immemorial for toothaches.

The thing to be noted out here is that a temporary filling is not going to last. It will fall out or wear off in a short span of a month or so. This is why you must visit the dentist to replace it with a permanent one. If you don't do that than your tooth will be become further infected and result in more concerns.


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