How to Care for a Tooth Filling
Dental fillings help restore the form, function and aesthetics of damaged or decayed teeth. When you get a tooth filled, you need to take special care of it in the short and long terms. By properly caring for your oral health, you can minimize the risk of of further cavities and also prevent damage to your current fillings.
Caring for a New Filling
#1 Figure out how long it takes your filling to set. There are several types of dental fillings and each takes a different amount of time to set. Being aware of the setting time will give you a general time frame for which you should be especially careful not to inflict any damage on the filling.
Gold, amalgam, and composite fillings take about 24-48 hours to set.
Ceramic fillings set immediately with the help of a blue dental light.
Glass ionomers set within 3 hours of filling, but it may take 48 hours for them to feel hard
#2 Take pain medication if needed. You can take over the counter pain medication before the anesthetic wears off and continue this treatment until your sensitivity subsides. This will help with any swelling or pain you might experience.
Ask your dentist if you need to take pain medication to manage post-operative sensitivity. Follow the package or your dentist’s instructions for taking pain relievers after a filling.
Sensitivity will generally improve within one week
#3 Avoid food and beverages until the anesthetic wears off. Your mouth will feel numb for a few hours after a filling because of the anaesthetic administered during the procedure. If you can, avoid eating or drinking until the anesthetic wears off so that you don’t injure yourself.
If you do eat or drink, the numbness may make it difficult to gauge the temperature or you may end up biting the inside of your cheek, tongue or tip.
If you can’t wait to eat or drink, try soft foods like yogurt or applesauce and simple beverages like water. Chew using the opposite side of your mouth than the filling to help ensure that you don’t injure yourself or damage the filling
#4 Avoid very hot and very cold foods and beverages. Your teeth and the filling will likely be sensitive for a few days after the procedure. Avoid consuming food and beverages that are very hot or very cold to control sensitivity and pain, and also that might damage your filling.
Very hot or cold foods and beverages can disrupt the bond of fillings. Composite fillings are generally bonded to the tooth. The bonding process continues for at least 24 hours, so it’s advisable to consume lukewarm foods/beverages during this time.
Hot and cold temperatures make the filling material expand and contract, especially if they are metal. This alters the filling adaptability, shape, and strength of the material and may cause fractures or leaking.
Make sure to allow cooling time for hot foods like soup or baked dishes including lasagna as well as heated beverages such as coffee and tea before you consume them
#5 Avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods. Try to avoid foods that are hard, chewy, or sticky for a few days after a filling. Foods such as candies, granola bars, and raw vegetables can cause potential problems, including pulling out the filling.
Biting hard foods can fracture your filling or your tooth. Sticky foods can adhere filled tooth surfaces for a long time and make them more susceptible to cavities.
Food stuck in between the teeth can weaken a filling and puts you at higher risk for more cavities. To avoid this, rinse your mouth out after every snack or meal and use fluoridated mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
#6 Chew on the opposite side of your mouth to the filling. When you finally eat, make sure to chew on the opposite side of your mouth to the filling for a day or two. This will help ensure that the filling sets properly and doesn’t get damaged.
#7 Check for high points on the filling. Because the dentist “fills” a tooth, it is possible that he adds too much material to the filling site. Check for a high point in the filling by gently biting down. Contact your dentist if you feel any high points to prevent fracturing your filling or causing post-operative pain.
High points may prevent you from closing your mouth properly or biting correctly. They can also cause problems like pain, the inability to eat on the side of the mouth where the filling is, fracture of the filling, earache, and clicking in the temporomandibular joint.
#8 Contact your dentist if you’re having any issues. If you notice any issues with your teeth, mouth, or fillings, contact your dentist. This will help ensure that there aren’t underlying issues and may prevent further damage to your teeth.
Watch for the following symptoms and contact your dentist if you experience any of them:
Sensitivity in the restored tooth
Cracks in the filling
Missing or chipped off fillings
Discolored teeth or fillings
If you notice the filling is shaky and seepage is occurring at the margins when you drink something
Caring for Your Fillings Every Day
Brush and floss every day, including after meals. Brushing and flossing every day and after meals can maintain the health of your teeth, fillings, and gums. A clean environment may help you avoid further fillings as well as unsightly stains.
#1 Make sure to brush and floss after meals if you can. If you have food stuck in your teeth, it promotes an environment that is rife for further cavities and can damage current fillings. If you don’t have a toothbrush, chewing a piece of gum can help.
Coffee, tea, and wine can stain your filling and your teeth. If you drink any of these beverages, Try to brush your teeth afterward to prevent staining.
Tobacco and smoking can also stain your fillings and teeth.
#2 Control your intake of sugary and acidic foods and beverages. Sugary and acidic foods and beverages may contribute to your need for fillings, and controlling your intake of them can lead to better oral health. Tooth decay can easily occur underneath an existing filling. Over time fillings will naturally breakdown and leak, so it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and good hygiene to prevent decay from forming under existing fillings, too. Brushing your teeth after consuming these foods may help prevent you from needing further fillings.
If you can’t brush, because for example you're at school, then rinse your mouth with water. Increase your water intake. Limit your snacking frequency, avoid sticky foods.
#3 Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and legumes can help with your overall well-being, including oral health.
Even some healthy foods are acidic, including citrus fruits. Continue eating these, but limit how much you consume and consider brushing your teeth when you’re done. Consider diluting juices with 50/50 water.
Examples of sugary and acidic foods and beverages are soft drinks, sweets, candies, and wine. Sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffee with added sugar also count.
#4 Use fluoride gels. If you have multiple fillings, ask your dentist to prescribe you a fluoride gel or paste. Fluoride helps to protect your teeth from new cavities and can promote general oral health
Fluoride gel or paste also helps to strengthen your enamel, furthering the life of your fillings
#5 Avoid mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain alcohol. Mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain alcohol can decrease the durability of fillings or even stain them. Use non-alcohol colored toothpaste or mouthwashes to avoid these problems.
You can find toothpastes and mouthwashes without alcohol at most grocery and drug stores or online retailers.
#6 Don't grind your teeth. If you have a bad habit of clenching and grinding your teeth at night, you may damage your fillings and teeth. If you're a tooth-grinder, ask your dentist about using a mouth guard.
Grinding wears your fillings and can cause sensitivity and damage including small chips and cracks.
Nail biting, opening bottles or holding objects with your teeth are also bad habits. Try to avoid them so that you don’t damage your teeth or fillings.
#7 Get regular checkups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. Regular checkups and cleanings are an integral part of maintaining oral health. See your dentist at least twice a year, or more often if you’re having any issues with your teeth or fillings.