Mouth and teeth health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, although most adults and children alike dread a visit to the dentist. Whether it is due to a traumatic experience involving a tooth issue or an unknown underlying fear, dental visits often come with hesitation and avoidance. Once a visit is made, it is likely a problem is identified, the most common of which is a cavity that requires a dental filling. An estimated 84% of adults in the UK have at least one or more dental fillings throughout a lifetime, with a large portion receiving an average of seven fillings to remedy cavities. Although dental fillings are a common practice in dentistry, they come with some risks of which patients may be woefully unaware. It is necessary to understand the dangers of tooth fillings before undergoing a procedure to fix a cavity, as well as why fillings are the standard choice for correcting teeth issues.
Understanding Filling Basics
Dental fillings are used to correct cavities in the teeth where decay has occurred due to left behind food not removed by regular brushing and flossing. When bacteria are given the opportunity to digest these remnants of food particles, plaque is creating that ultimately dissolves the tooth’s enamel. Cavities are more prominent in adults who consume high-carb and sugary foods, or those who fail to take care of their mouth and gums over time. Cavities are corrected most often through dental fillings which are placed in the decayed tooth, eliminating the need for a full tooth extraction. Tooth fillings, made of silver amalgam or a composite material, stop further decay to surrounding teeth and gums and prevents infection from developing in the mouth.
Prior to receiving a tooth filling to correct a cavity and prevent any additional decay, both adults and children have their mouth X-rayed by a dental technician. Once the dentist has reviewed the X-ray and evidence of decay or cavities is found, a tooth filling is recommended and scheduled. The procedure is completed under localised anesthesia and is typically done within an hour for most patients.
Risks and Side Effects
Although dental fillings to eliminate cavities are a common procedure, they do come with a variety of risks and potential side effects that patients should be made aware of beforehand. The most prevalent problem with tooth fillings is sensitivity following the procedure. Air, sweets, cold and hot foods may all lead to discomfort once a filling is put in, but for most patients, this sensitivity subsides after a few weeks. Persistent pain around the filling may also occur, which could take place when biting down on foods, when the tooth is touched, or without any direct contact with the filled cavity. This pain also subsides in a short period, but prolonged discomfort may be a warning sign of other underlying issues.
A medical negligence claims specialist that handles cases involving dental procedures explains that while sensitivity and pain are common, there could be other issues that arise after a tooth filling procedure. In some cases, particularly when the dental surgeon is not qualified enough or well-trained, the tooth filling may fail to bond with the affected tooth. This can cause further decay and the ultimate need for a tooth extraction. In other cases, an allergic reaction to the filling material, specifically when silver amalgam is used, can cause a slew of problems inside the mouth. While these health problems are not incredibly common, when they take place they can be uncomfortable and difficult to correct in the future.
The Bottom Line
Before receiving a tooth filling to correct a cavity, it is important to speak with the dentist or surgeon and fully understand the risks and potential side effects that may impact the quality of life. After the procedure is complete, persistent issues like pain and sensitivity that does not decrease after several weeks should be brought to the attention of the dentist quickly. When bonding failure occurs or an allergic reaction takes place, patients are encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Being proactive about these side effects of tooth fillings has the potential to reduce the extent of damage to the teeth, gums, and mouth for patients who undergo the procedure.