After Tooth Fillings are Placed

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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 future.

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 toothpaste.


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!

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