After A Dental Filling: What to Do and Not Do

Taking care of your dental fillings is crucial for maintaining long-term oral health. Dental fillings are a widely used treatment for dental cavities, which are small holes that can develop in teeth. It is crucial to be aware of the indications that may signal the presence of a cavity. Once identified, the usual course of treatment involves eliminating the decayed parts of the tooth, cleaning the affected region, and applying either composite or amalgam fillings. This process is relatively quick, painless, and straightforward. However, many patients are not fully informed about the necessary steps to maintain their fillings’ health. It is essential to address this gray area to ensure the longevity of your dental fillings. Here are some guidelines to help you look after your fillings effectively.

Woman getting a dental filling at a clinic.

What are dental fillings?

Dental fillings serve as effective solutions for repairing and restoring teeth by utilizing various materials, including metals, plastics, glass, and other substances. These versatile fillings find widespread application in addressing dental concerns such as decay-induced cavities, cracked or broken teeth, and tooth erosion caused by habits like nail-biting or tooth grinding.

What materials are dental fillings made from?

Various materials are utilized for dental fillings, each with its own characteristics and benefits. Here are some choices available: gold, porcelain, and silver amalgam. Silver amalgam is made up of a blend of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury. On the other hand, composite resin fillings, referred to as tooth-colored materials, are composed of plastic and glass.

To determine the most suitable filling type for your specific requirements, several factors are taken into account. These factors include the location and severity of the decay, the cost associated with the filling material, your insurance coverage, and the professional recommendation provided by your dentist.

Dental filling procedure at the dentist.

What not to do after getting a tooth filling?

Avoid Touching or Adjusting the Filling

Immediately after the filling treatment, it is common to experience numbness due to the local anesthetic. During this time, it is important not to tamper with the filling or try to reposition it if you feel it is loose. Instead, contact your dentist promptly to address any concerns or issues. Even after the filling has settled, refrain from touching or playing with it unnecessarily.

Pay Attention to Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is normal after a filling procedure, especially in the initial stages. This sensitivity should gradually diminish over time. However, if you notice that the sensitivity persists or worsens after a week, it could indicate a problem with the filling or its positioning. If you find yourself in such situations, it is recommended to seek guidance from your dentist for a comprehensive evaluation. Ignoring persistent pain may lead to the exposure of the cavity, requiring additional treatment or even emergency care.

Don’t Mask the Pain

It is a natural tendency to ignore pain, hoping that it will subside on its own. However, this approach is not recommended when it comes to fillings, as it may increase the risk of further infection. Loose fillings can also allow bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to complications. If you find yourself considering over-the-counter pain medication but the pain persists, it is a clear indication that your filling needs professional attention.

Avoid Teeth Grinding

If you have a tendency to grind your teeth, it can lead to issues with your dental fillings and overall oral health. Informing your dentist about any medical conditions related to teeth grinding is extremely important. Grinding can lead to the wearing down of fillings, which can cause tooth sensitivity and increase the risk of potential chips. Engage in open discussions with your dentist to explore suitable solutions for your fillings.

Sticky food that should be avoided after a dental filling.

Avoid Chewy or Sticky Foods for Dental Filling Longevity

To extend the lifespan of your dental filling, it is recommended to modify your diet temporarily. This involves avoiding hard, chewy, or sticky foods for approximately two to three weeks. Furthermore, if you experience any sensitivity, it is best to steer clear of hot or cold food and beverages. While maintaining your oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, consider incorporating softer food options into your meals. Boiled potatoes, vegetables, soups, eggs, and oatmeal are excellent alternatives.

Foods to Avoid After Dental Filling

It’s best to avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods for approximately two weeks following a dental filling. If you experience tooth sensitivity, it may also be beneficial to steer clear of hot or cold food and beverages. Remember, there’s no need to delay brushing your teeth after a dental filling. You can continue to brush twice a day and floss once a day as part of your regular dental care routine.

Use Non-Prescription Pain Relievers If Needed

If you experience any discomfort after a dental filling, over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate it. For more detailed information on composite resin fillings and the dental filling procedure, please refer to our dedicated dental fillings page.

Woman choosing the best food to eat after a dental filling.

Tips for eating after a getting a dental filling

After undergoing a dental filling procedure, it is common for individuals to experience some level of tenderness. To help alleviate discomfort, consider the following practical recommendations:

  • Exercise caution while biting and chewing: When biting down forcefully, excessive pressure can cause pain. To mitigate this, try not to fully bite through your food and chew slowly on the side opposite to the newly filled tooth.
  • Steer clear of hard foods: Refrain from chewing on hard substances such as candies, nuts, and ice, as they can exert excessive pressure on your teeth. Additionally, biting into hard foods may dislodge a newly placed silver filling that has not fully set.
  • Avoid sticky foods: Eating sticky foods shortly after a filling can dislodge the restoration. While this occurrence is infrequent, it is more likely with amalgam fillings than with composite fillings.
  • Take your time while eating: By eating slowly, you can minimize the chances of biting down forcefully and avoid putting excessive strain on the side of your mouth where the new filling is located.
  • Reduce consumption of sugary foods: Sugary foods and beverages not only have the potential to trigger sensitivity but can also contribute to the growth of bacteria around the new filling.
  • Steer clear of very hot or cold food and drinks: Opt for moderate temperatures when consuming food and beverages to reduce the likelihood of triggering sensitivities.
  • Chew with your mouth closed: Even cold air can cause discomfort if your teeth are sensitive to temperature changes. Keeping your mouth closed while chewing can help minimize exposure to cold air.
  • By adhering to these suggestions, you can minimize post-filling discomfort and promote a smoother recovery process.

What to Eat After Dental Filling

Patients frequently inquire with our dental professionals at about suitable post-filling dietary options. The answer varies depending on the type of filling you have received. Composite fillings, which are white in color, undergo instant hardening when exposed to the blue light utilized by your dentist. As a result, you can consume food and beverages immediately after the procedure. Conversely, metal dental fillings do not harden right away, prompting most dentists to advise waiting at least 24 hours before indulging in solid foods. To prevent accidentally biting your cheek, tongue, or lips, it is advisable to wait until the local anesthetic has fully worn off before attempting to eat.

Flossing recommended after dental fillings.

How should I care for my teeth with fillings?

Here are some guidelines for maintaining the health of your dental fillings:

  • Regular Dental Check-ups: It is important to visit your dentist for cleanings and check-ups at least twice a year.
  • Brushing with Fluoride Toothpaste: Make sure to brush your teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride. This helps strengthen your teeth and protect your fillings.
  • Daily Flossing: Flossing your teeth at least once a day is crucial for removing plaque and food particles that can accumulate around your fillings.

If you experience any of the following issues, it is advisable to contact your dentist:

  • Tooth Sensitivity: If you notice extreme sensitivity in your tooth, it could be a sign of a problem with your filling.
  • Sharp Edge: If you feel a sharp edge on your filling, it is important to have it examined by your dentist.
  • Cracked Filling or Missing Piece: If you observe a crack in your filling or if a piece of the filling is missing, it is essential to seek dental attention.

In cases where your dentist suspects a cracked filling or a filling that is not properly sealed, X-rays may be taken. This helps identify any potential issues such as decay caused by debris and saliva seeping between the filling and the tooth.

What causes tooth sensitivity after getting a dental filling?

Experiencing tooth sensitivity following a dental filling is a relatively common occurrence. It is not uncommon for your tooth to exhibit sensitivity to pressure, air, sugary foods, or temperature changes. Typically, this sensitivity subsides naturally within a few weeks. During this period, it is advisable to avoid any triggers that exacerbate the sensitivity, and usually, there is no need to resort to pain relievers.

If the sensitivity persists beyond two to four weeks or becomes exceptionally severe, it is recommended to contact your dentist. Seeking professional assistance is crucial in such cases, as your dentist may suggest the use of a desensitizing toothpaste, apply a specialized desensitizing agent to the affected tooth, or potentially recommend a root canal procedure. By reaching out to your dentist, you can receive the appropriate guidance and treatment for your specific situation.

Patient with pain around her dental filling.

Why do I feel pain around my dental filling?

There are multiple factors that can contribute to experiencing discomfort following a dental filling, each with its own distinct cause.

Discomfort when biting down: If your filling is affecting your bite, it can lead to pain. It is advisable to revisit your dentist and request a reshaping of the filling to alleviate this issue.

Discomfort when your teeth come into contact: This type of pain often arises from the interaction between two different metal surfaces, such as a newly filled tooth containing silver amalgam and a neighboring tooth with a gold crown. Fortunately, this discomfort is usually temporary and tends to resolve on its own within a short period of time.

Toothache-like pain: In some cases, particularly when the decay was deeply entrenched in the tooth’s pulp, you may experience a toothache sensation. This response could indicate an unhealthy condition of the pulp, necessitating a root canal procedure.

Referred pain: Referred pain refers to sensitivity or pain experienced in other teeth apart from the one that underwent filling. Typically, this is not indicative of any issues with those teeth themselves. Rather, the filled tooth is transmitting “pain signals” to other nearby teeth. With time, this discomfort should diminish naturally within a span of one to two weeks.

Woman replacing a dental filling at the dentist.

Why or when would a dental filling need to be replaced?

There are several factors that can lead to the replacement of dental fillings. These reasons can be categorized into three main causes:

  • Natural wear and tear: The constant pressure exerted on dental fillings from chewing, grinding, or clenching can eventually cause them to wear down, chip, or crack. Although these changes may not be immediately noticeable to you, your dentist can detect any weaknesses in your dental restorations during a routine check-up.
  • Tooth decay occurs when the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling deteriorates, allowing food particles and bacteria to enter. This can cause more decay to develop under the filling, putting the tooth at risk. If not treated, the decay can continue to advance, reaching the dental pulp and potentially causing a tooth abscess.
  • When a filling is very large or there is a lot of decay, the tooth may not have enough structure left to support a new filling. In such situations, your dentist may need to consider alternative options, such as placing a dental crown to provide adequate support and protection.

It is important to address these issues promptly to maintain good oral health and prevent further complications. Regular dental check-ups are essential for identifying any problems with your dental fillings and determining the most appropriate course of action.

Dental filling procedure.

FAQ’s

How frequently should I schedule dental appointments after getting a filling?

Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor the condition of your filling and ensure there are no complications. Typically, it is recommended to visit the dentist every six months, although this timeframe may vary based on your specific needs.

What are the indications that my filling might require replacement?

Several signs may indicate that your filling needs to be replaced, including looseness, presence of tooth decay around the filling, or experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity. If you are uncertain, it is advisable to consult your dentist for a professional evaluation.

Can I consume any food after undergoing a dental filling?

For the first 24 hours following a filling procedure, it is advisable to avoid chewing hard foods or sticky candies to prevent dislodging the filling. However, after this initial period, you can resume your regular eating habits.

What occurs during the process of getting a filling?

During a filling procedure, your dentist will numb your mouth to ensure a painless experience. After removing the decayed portion, they will clean the tooth thoroughly, eliminating any debris or bacteria, and then proceed to apply the filling material.

Will I experience any discomfort after receiving a dental filling?

It is common to experience mild sensitivity in the filled tooth immediately after the procedure. However, this sensitivity is temporary and typically subsides within a day or two.

Which type of filling material will be utilized?

Tooth-colored fillings are commonly used due to their inconspicuous appearance, minimal removal of healthy tooth structure, and their ability to bond with the teeth, providing added strength.

In cases where a large cavity is present, your dentist may opt for an inlay, which is a porcelain restoration that fits within the cusps of your teeth, or an onlay, which extends beyond the cusps. 

How long can I expect my filling to last?

Fillings can last anywhere from five to ten years or even longer before requiring replacement. Your dentist will assess the condition of your fillings during your biannual visits to ensure they remain in good shape.

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