Fillings are a tried and tested dental treatment used to restore the function, integrity and structure of a tooth. They are made from a range of materials such as gold or silver, composite resin, porcelain, or an amalgam of several metals. Your dentist will determine whether or not you need to have a filling by carrying out a thorough examination and taking any necessary x-rays.
Not all oral conditions have symptoms, which is why you should visit your dentist for regular checkups. However it is always worth being on the lookout for anything that may indicate a problem. Anything left untreated can result in something more serious, potentially causing lasting damage.
If you experience pain or increased sensitivity in a concentrated area, you may be in need of a filling. This can be anything from a sharp throbbing pain to general toothache. Sensitivity means discomfort when biting or chewing, or during exposure to hot and cold and particularly sweet food and drink.
Other signs include a hole that you can see or feel in your tooth, as well as any chips, fractures or rough edges. Even things like floss tearing in a particular spot, or food getting stuck between certain teeth is worth keeping an eye on.
Sometimes old fillings can come loose or fall out completely and will most likely need to be replaced. If this has happened then you should contact your dentist as soon as possible to arrange an emergency appointment.
Normally a dental probe is used to gently poke around all the nooks and crannies in and around your teeth to look for anything suspicious. Drying the teeth with some air to remove the saliva gives the dentist a clearer view.
It is important to reiterate that in most cases decay or gum disease are mild and painless in their early stages. They generally become more painful when they affect the nerves, which is very deep.
The majority of dental problems can be prevented by practising good oral hygiene, and following a diet low on sugars and dietary acids. And of course, by attending regular checkups with your dentist.