One of the most common treatments in dental offices is the filling of a tooth. During routine checkups, dentists check the mouths of patients for cavities. If a cavity is found, the treatment route most commonly taken involves the removal of the decayed pieces of tooth, cleaning the area, and filling the newly cleaned cavity with either composite or amalgam fillings. While the process itself is relatively painless and straightforward and can be done in a few short minutes at your dentist’s office, the aftercare involved is seen as a gray area for many patients. Here are the top do’s and don’ts that should be followed after you have received a dental filling.
Do: Check Your Bite
Fillings are usually filled with metallics or ceramics. The setting time of a filling plays a role in when you should check for things like an uneven bite. Ceramics set almost immediately, and your dentist will usually ask you after the procedure to bite down to ensure that your bite is not uneven. If you have opted for metallic materials, setting time takes a bit longer. If you notice that the teeth that were filled touch one another when you bite down before your other teeth touch one another, contact your dentist to have the imbalance corrected as soon as possible.
Don’t: Drink Hot Beverages
The anesthetic does not wear off immediately following a filling. Because you will not be able to accurately measure a drink’s temperature, you could burn yourself easily. Hot beverages are best avoided until all feeling returns to the mouth.
Do: Think About Your Food
For composite fillings, food can be eaten immediately. However, with silver fillings, hard foods and chewing directly on the filling are to be avoided for the first 24 hours following the procedure. It is important to remember that the numbing solution can cause your mouth to feel numb up to three hours following a filling. This can cause severe tongue or cheek bites for those with composite fillings that eat immediately following the procedure. Use the other side of your mouth to chew, regardless of filling type. For those with silver fillings, if you have had cavities filled on both sides of the mouth, stick to liquids and soft foods during that initial 24-hour period; for those with composite fillings, wait until the numbness wears off to resume eating solid foods.
Don’t: Touch Your Filling
This is self-explanatory for adults. However, if you have a child that has received a filling, the feeling of numbness can be a new feeling that they want to explore. Make it a point to reinforce the rule that fillings should not be touched or played with following the procedure. Further, if you notice imbalances in your bite, do not try to correct them on your own by pressing down on your filling. Contact your dentist to resolve the issue.
Do: Remember What Caused Your Cavity
The best way to avoid additional cavities is by engaging in a healthy dental routine as well as a diet that is tooth-healthy. Regular brushing and flossing and limiting acidic food and sugary foods are all ways to help keep the teeth strong and to ward off cavity-causing bacteria.
Don’t: Ignore Lasting Pain
Some pain around the injection site where you were numbed, as well as some tooth sensitivity, is normal and is usually nothing to concern yourself with. Additionally, for deeper fillings, because the filling is so close to the nerve and because the tooth is inflamed, pain in the tooth a few days after the procedure is also normal. However, if you are still experiencing pain a week after your filling, call your dentist to discuss whether or not you need to visit the office for a follow-up.
Do: Talk to Your Dentist
Do not be afraid to ask your dentist questions about follow-up care. Your dentist wants you to feel confident about the health of your teeth and will be more than happy to answer any and all filling-related questions that you have.
By following these do’s and don’ts, along with scheduling routine cleanings, you can ensure that your fillings will remain intact and will protect your teeth for years to come.