WHAT TO EXPECT: When a tooth is prepared for a
filling, the decayed enamel is completely removed, exposing the inner layers of
the tooth, called dentin. Dentin is extremely sensitive to fluctuations in
temperature or air and water, so the tooth will need to be anesthetized before
preparation begins. You will be numb for 2-6 hours after treatment, so be very
careful about eating until the numbness wears off. It is normal to experience
numbness on the tongue and will eventually go away.
In the case that decay reached deep into the tooth, it may
have been necessary for the Doctor to place a protective base coat, called a pulp
cap, to protect the nerve of the tooth so as to help prevent and/or avoid a
root canal. This procedure is regarded as a conservative treatment. The
application of medicated cement in the filling helps the pulp of the tooth to
repair itself by containing the decay and allowing the buildup of a wall of
tooth structure between the pulp and the decayed material. Though rare, a
pulp cap does not always guarantee that the tooth will not need a root canal in
The tooth is then filled with a resin composite material
similar to a hard plastic, which is designed to resemble the structure and
color of enamel. You may expect the treated area to be sore and sensitive to
hot and cold for about 4-7 days.
PAIN: It is normal for your tooth to be sore and
tender after treatment. If you feel that the pain and soreness is
uncomfortable, you can take analgesics such as Advil (ibuprofen) or aspirin
tablets, or other pain medication with which you are familiar. If you develop a
rash or if you become nauseated, discontinue medication and contact our office. For
sensitivity, you may use a tooth sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne
or other brands that indicate use for tooth sensitivity. If the sensitivity
does not go away, we can prescribe you a professional strength sensitivity
RECOMMENDED HOME CARE: It is highly
recommended that you avoid chewing on the side that was treated until numbness completely disappears in order to prevent any
unnecessary injuries such as chewing on the inside of your cheeks or
tongue. It is also recommended that you rinse with warm salt water (1/2
tsp salt to 8 oz. lukewarm water) 4-6 times daily. Rinsing with warm salt water
will help the gums heal faster and reduce any pain that may be associated with
work done around the gum line.
ORAL HYGIENE: Brush and floss normally. The composite
fillings are done in such a way as they are as hard as they are going to get by
the time the filling appointment is completed.
DIET: You may resume eating your normal diet once the
anesthetic wears off completely. In the case of silver (amalgam)
fillings, you are advised to wait at least 2 hours before chewing on the side that
was worked on, to allow the material to completely harden. Just remember that
though the filling material is strong and durable, it is not 100%
indestructible and you should always take caution when eating hard or crunchy
foods on a tooth that has had work done on it.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR SILVER (i.e. AMALGAM)
FILLINGS: If you have chosen to have silver fillings placed instead of
resin composite fillings, you should wait AT LEAST 2 hours before chewing or
biting on the treated side, to allow for complete hardening of the filling
material. You should also bear in mind that since silver fillings are not
bonded to the tooth structure, unlike composite material, the overall strength
of the restored tooth is even less. Greater care should be exercised when
choosing the foods that you eat.
*We do our best to ensure the bite is well-adjusted
before you leave your appointment; however, due to numbness you may not have
been biting properly and a few spots may have been missed. If your bite feels
strange when the anesthetic wears off, refrain from chewing on that side and
call our office right away to avoid traumatizing the teeth.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office, and we will be glad to assist you!