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Dental Fillings: What They Are and Why We Get Them

Oral health comes in a wide variety. Toothpaste, dental floss, electric toothbrushes, water picks, and a type of mouthwash for dry mouth, mouth sores, and cavities. We are given many tools to help create a healthy mouth and strong teeth. However, rarely do people have perfect oral health and it is completely normal to miss brushing or flossing your teeth. Always make sure to keep your routine teeth cleanings and dental appointments to stay on top of any teeth that may progress into cavities, and of course call your dentist if there is a break, crack, or consistent pain. Your dentist will look over your dental x-rays and make a plan. Most likely this plan will be for a dental filling.

Dental UV light used on Dental Filling

What are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings are highly beneficial for teeth that are still very healthy. The point of them is to help the strength and structure of the tooth to keep nerves and pulp covered and reduce further damage.

Cavities very often eat away at a tooth and will continue to become sensitive, collect other food and bacteria, and at some point, will lead to the tooth falling apart. This tends to be painful as nerves become irritated and uncovered. If infection gets into these cavities, the root may become infected, and a root canal may be the only option. To keep this from happening, a dentist will numb your teeth and gums and drill away at the decay until there is once again healthy tooth. Then they will add the filing composite, harden it, and you’ll be all set to go! If you have several cavities on one side, they usually numb the one area and get as many cavities fixed within one numbing session as they can. If needed, it is not uncommon to have three or four cavities fixed at one time.

Dental filling lamp used on dental Fflling

What kind of Dental Fillings are there?

Today, dentists actually have a wide range of fillings they can choose from. Gold, silver amalgam, porcelain, and composite resin are all normal filling types. Gold is more expensive, and with the ability to match a tooth’s color it is dying out as an average filling. Silver amalgam is a filling that is mixed with a variety of different metals. It is cheaper than gold but is still sturdy and should last ten to fifteen years. Unfortunately, it does tend to discolor other areas of the tooth into a gray and can expand and shrink with temperatures more than other fillings. Tooth colored composites are more sought after, as the filling then blends into the other tooth without drawing attention to it. Composites are less sturdy, and depending on where they are, they can chip away.

Insurance and the product availability at your dentist will be considered to determine what kind of filling you get.

How does Oral Health effect general body health?

Bodies are strange and how each individual function affects us is still widely unknown. However, scientists and doctors have been trying to find the links to oral health and the health of the rest of our bodies. The National Library of Medicine submitted a research article that found certain diseases linked to oral health. “…research examined the potential impact of oral diseases on chronic systemic conditions. To list a few, periodontal diseases have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, dementia, respiratory diseases, and mortality, where an inflammatory pathway was depicted.” (Sabbah, Folayan, and Tantawi, 2019). The article cited, The Link between Oral and General Health, goes into detail regarding the scientists’ findings and what age and categories are considered within their research.

Dental mirror and hook in woman's mouth

Whether you worry about the links between oral and general health or not, we do know that oral health is still a necessary piece of our day to day lives, and requires routine and dedication. Make sure to make and keep all routine dental appointments, and to always call your dentist if there is pain, sensitivity, or inflammation in your teeth or gums.