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If you’re experiencing tooth decay, also known as a cavity, you’re not alone. The CDC estimates that over 90% of American adults experience tooth decay with 80% of people having a cavity by time they’re 34 years old.1 To prevent further damage to your teeth, your dentist may recommend a filling to restore the function and appearance of the tooth, which may cause some anxiety. Fortunately, fillings are nothing to be afraid of. Help ease your mind by knowing the different types of fillings and what’s going to happen before and after you go in for the procedure.
Types of Fillings
Dental fillings are a bit like they sound. Dentists use a drill to remove decay from the teeth and “fill” the cavity with a durable material. A filling is a material used to fill a cavity after tooth decay is removed. However, not all fillings are the same. They can be made from a variety of materials, including:
Make sure to review your dental benefits plan prior to the procedure to double-check what types of fillings are included in your coverage.
What to Expect During a Tooth Filling
A tooth filling generally takes an hour or less to perform and causes minimal, if any, discomfort. Your dentist may also take X-rays of your mouth beforehand to confirm the cavity location and severity.
When you’re ready for the procedure to begin, a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area surrounding the tooth and ensure a comfortable and pain-free process. You may experience slight stinging during the injection of the local anesthetic into your gums. Make sure to tell your dentist if you feel any discomfort. You can also help manage dental anxiety during the procedure by listening to music or a podcast with comfortable headphones.
What to Expect After
Your dentist may recommend waiting to eat or drink for 1-3 hours following the procedure. This gives the anesthetic time to wear off and prevents you from accidentally biting or burning your tongue, lip or cheek. If you experience pain while chewing or biting, your filling may need to be reshaped. While tooth sensitivity is common following a dental filling, reach out to your dentist if it continues after 2-4 weeks.2 Your dentist may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste.
Remember, no filling is meant to last forever. During a checkup, your dentist can see if a filling is wearing out and needs to be replaced. In that case, it’s a similar procedure as before, where the old filling is completely removed to make way for the new one.
It’s important to practice daily oral health habits, such as brushing twice and flossing once a day, to help prevent cavities from forming. Using fluoride toothpaste and regularly visiting the dentist also helps maintain good oral health. However, if you need a dental filling, don’t fret. There are plenty of options to fit your needs and arming yourself with knowledge before the procedure will help overcome dental anxiety. If you have concerns, talk to your dentist at your next appointment.
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* All TruAssure dental plans, other than Basic and Preferred dental plans, are offered in association with the DenteMax Plus dental network arrangement, which includes participating dentists from the DenteMax, United Concordia and Connection dental networks. TruAssure Basic and Preferred dental plans for both group and individual members are offered in association with the DenteMax dental network.
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