Dental fillings are a very common procedure. All dentists, including Dr George Olstein perform fillings as part of routine dental care, just about every day.
However, we understand that if you suffer from dental fear or anxiety, the thought of a having to have filling may be too much to bear. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide. By illuminating why fillings are so important, and what is involved in the procedure, we hope to eradicate some of the unknown, thereby making you feel more comfortable with the process.
Why Dental Fillings are Necessary
Each and every one of us has bacteria living and growing inside our mouths. When we eat, we are effectively feeding these bacteria as well. This, in turn, produces a strain of extremely strong acid that eats away at your teeth. This bacteria is more commonly know as plaque. If you fail to remove plaque (through brushing, flossing and using mouth rinse), then it will continue eating away at your teeth until a hole forms. This hole is a cavity.
Unlike many other parts of our body, which have amazing regenerative properties, our teeth are unable to heal themselves. Once a hole is formed in your tooth, your body simply cannot repair the hole on its own.
Once upon a time, before the advancements of modern dental care that we have today, teeth that had holes in them would simply be removed—pulled out before the patient could suffer too much pain. However, with advancements in dental care, we are now able to patch these holes (or cavities) with the hard substance that is more commonly known as a dental filling.
The Steps Involved In Having a Filling
The steps involved in getting a dental filling are relatively simple and straight-forward, including:
- To begin with, Dr Olstein will ensure that you are completely comfortable. He will apply a numbing gel to your gums in the area closest to the tooth that requires a filling. It is important to note that amalgam fillings (or silver fillings) are never used in our practice and haven’t been for over 25 years. We choose to only use tooth coloured fillings. Once the numbing gel has had a few minutes to work, Dr Olstein will then administer a local anaesthetic.
- As soon as your mouth is all prepared and completely numb, Dr Olstein will then remove the section of your tooth that has been affected by tooth decay. This is usually the part of the procedure about which most patients are nervous. Dr Olstein will use a high-speed device to glide through your tooth decay, and remove any damaged portion of tooth. Unfortunately, this handpiece does emit a high-pitched whistle, which can be quite disconcerting for some patients. Just remember that you be completely numb (from the local anaesthetic), so while the sound may not be ideal, you will not be able to feel a thing. If you are concerned about noise, you are welcome to bring your music player or mobile to listen to music with your headphones. While Dr Olstein is using this handpiece, his dental hygienist will be operating a suction device in your mouth. This will remove any excess tooth decay, water or saliva from your mouth, keeping the area as clear as possible.
- Once the bulk of your tooth decay has been removed, Dr Olstein may switch to a slow-speed handpiece or hand tools to remove any smaller, hard to reach instances of tooth decay that still remain. The slower handpiece does not have a whistle, but it can often cause patients’ to feel vibrations in their mouth. Along the way, the dentist will also use a water and air sprayer to clear debris out of the way.
- Now that the entire portion of damaged tooth has been removed, we need to restore your tooth to its full function, so that you can eat and speak as normal. Dr Olstein specialises in tooth coloured fillings, so we will run through the process required for composite fillings:
- If the cavity is located between two teeth, we’ll pop a band around the tooth that is being filled to help build up the tooth wall.
- We first put conditioner on the surface of the tooth being filled. This creates small holes in the tooth, which helps the composite resin to bond properly to your tooth—your filling doesn’t fall out this way!
- We’ll then dry off the conditioner after a few seconds and cover it with bonding material.
- Next, we place composite resin material inside the cavity, spreading it evenly as we go, and making sure that they are no air bubbles caught inside.
- We shine a blue light on the filling to cure the resin material, making it hard, strong, and able to cope with usual eating and speaking habits. We may have to use the light multiple times, depending on the size and depth of your filling.
- Finally, we check that the filling fits properly in your mouth, and has not affected your bite in any way. We may need to buff the surface of your tooth to ensure that it is fitting perfectly within your mouth.
Hopefully, now that you understand how and why the process works, the thought of having a dental filling is not quite so scary anymore. If fear of the dentist is still overwhelming, Dr Olstein is adept and highly experienced in all facets of sleep dentistry, so sedation dentistry could be the answer to all your dental care problems.