Cavities are some of the most common dental issues experienced in the United States. Some cavities are very hard to spot and may not have any noticeable symptoms, while others can be very painful, making it difficult to eat and drink. A cavity is essentially a hole in the tooth enamel caused by tooth decay, typically a result of poor oral hygiene. If you develop a problematic cavity, your dentist may need to apply a filling to fix it and prevent further complications.
What Is a Filling?
A filling is a simple procedure during which your dentist will clean the affected tooth and fill the cavity with a protective substance. Depending on the location, depth, and severity of the cavity, anesthesia may be necessary for the procedure, and the dentist may need to drill away decay before applying the filling to preserve the rest of the tooth.
Fillings are long-term but not permanent solutions to tooth cavities. Depending on the type of filling applied to your tooth, your filling could last quite a long time or require replacement within a few years.
Types of Fillings
Dentists in the United States typically use three different filling procedures, each of which will last a different amount of time:
- Metal amalgam fillings are some of the most durable fillings, and they are generally composed of an amalgam of silver, mercury, copper, and tin. These fillings are fully set within 24 hours of placement and last five to 25 years.
- Composite resin fillings typically consist of resin and quartz particles, aimed at matching the natural color of the tooth. These fillings set within a minute, and they can last five to 15 years.
- Gold fillings are less commonly used today, and they do not provide a natural appearance. These fillings include a blend of gold, copper, and other metals that make for a very durable filling. They typically last 15 to 20 years.
The entire process of having a filling applied may only require a single visit to your dentist. However, some fillings, like composites may require the creation of a dental impression so the filling can be molded in a lab before it is applied.
What Happens When My Filling Breaks or Falls Out?
Having a filling applied to a cavity can provide you with peace of mind for the time being, and you may even forget you have it after a few years. However, fillings are not permanent, and eventually, your filling may break, deteriorate, or dislodge entirely. When this occurs, it’s vital to see your dentist as soon as possible to have the filling repaired or replaced.
If your usual dentist is unavailable or you need emergency filling treatment quickly, Emergency Dental Service is available 24/7 to help connect you with an emergency dental care provider near you. Call us at 1-888-350-1340 or use our online contact form to make your appointment today.