Dental decay is very common, affecting 1 in 3 adults (Adult Dental Health Survey 2009)
Most tooth decay will only become evident to you when it is deeper into the sensitive part of the tooth which can cause sensitivity and dental pain. As it is somewhat silent, it is crucial to attend every 6 months (at least) for a dental examination to assess your teeth for signs of decay before it gets deeper.
At The Windmill Dental Practice our focus is on prevention, to try and avoid the process of decay from occurring wherever possible. Tooth decay occurs via the process of dietary sugar consumption. The sugar is used as a food source by bacteria which are situated in the mouth. In turn these bacteria produce an acidic waste product which causes tooth decay. It is our goal to give you the best advice on dietary habits and good oral hygiene to empower you to prevent the onset of tooth decay in the first place.
In the event that tooth decay does occur, we also have a way of repairing and restoring the damaged part of the teeth: tooth fillings.
Tooth fillings come in a variety of materials and aim to restore part of the teeth which has been damaged by decay or wear. Some tooth fillings can be temporary in nature in order for a more permanent one to be made later. Temporary fillings are also useful when mid-treatment; for example during a root canal procedure which requires several appointments.
Permanent fillings on the other hand can be placed directly in the dental chair, which is the case most of the time or can be made by the lab. The lab-based fillings are called inlays or, if they are covering the top surface of the tooth, they are called onlays. They differ from dental crowns in that they are less damaging to the natural tooth structure and only cover the biting surface of the teeth. They can be made from gold, porcelain or zirconia.
At The Windmill Dental Practice we only use white, tooth coloured fillings as the silver amalgam fillings contain mercury, are not as environmentally friendly and are less aesthetically appealing. The tooth coloured filling is a strong resin based material called composite. The use of this material has superseded most other gold and silver fillings as they are easy to mould and place in the dental chair, are very strong and match the natural shade of teeth.
Anaesthetic is used to numb the area and ensure you feel no pain, making the procedure is as comfortable as possible. We then apply a rub ber dam which prevents all the bacteria and decay from coming into your oral cavity and allows us to achieve the highest standard of final restoration for you. Your dentist will talk you through how this works.
Initially, the decay or defect in the tooth structure is removed cleaned out. The tooth surface is then prepared with an adhesive gel to ensure the tooth coloured filling material sticks better to the tooth surface. The tooth filling is then moulded to the correct size and shape, before being set hard with a special light.
Following final adjustments and polishing, the filling is now ready to function.
It is so important to keep your oral hygiene at an optimum level to ensure the success of fillings. Bad oral hygiene will lead to gum disease and the failure of fillings. With this in mind we advise brushing twice a day and using interdental cleaning techniques like flossing or interdental brushes as advised by your dentist and hygienist. Maintain regular examinations to have the fillings assessed.
Discolouration of fillings can occur for a variety of reasons. Staining is sometimes caused by gradual wear and tear, but it can also be a sign of tooth decay. Tooth decay under fillings can be problematic and can necessitate the fillings’ repair. If left for a long period of time, a more severe decay can occur which will require more intensive treatment.
What to do
Ensure that you book in with your dentist regularly to ensure any staining is checked and monitored – it does not always need treatment. Quite often a clean with a hygienist can get rid of superficial staining. If the stain is underneath the filling and has darkened the tooth, this may require further treatment.
My filling has broken
Over the course of time, fillings will wear and sometimes need replacing. If they are kept clean and well maintained, they will last longer. If a filling is broken it will need to be repaired as soon as possible. Not only because it could be a sign of decay, but because it can also cause the tooth to weaken. This can result in further damage and the fracture of the remaining tooth structure.
What to do
Arrange to see a dentist as soon as possible to repair the broken filling.
Pain from my filling
Pain from your teeth is the body’s way of telling you that something is not quite right. Pain from a filling can occur for a variety of reasons, including decay beneath it, a fracture, deterioration or sometimes even a deeper problem with the nerve of the tooth.
What to do
Use a de-sensitising toothpaste as a topical ointment to soothe any pain, and see the dentist to have this investigated as soon as you can.
Composite fillings – From £150
(Practice Plan patients will receive a 20% discount and we do offer 0% finance for treatments exceeding £1000 to help spread the cost).