July 16, 2023
Tooth filling is a type of restorative procedure of the tooth or teeth which aims at rebuilding the tooth with the help of biocompatible cements in a manner in which the function of the tooth or teeth is restored. The choice of dental material to retain the morphofunctionality of the teeth is made depending on the depth of the decay or fracture. Fabricating a crown, bridge, inlay or onlay is a part of restoring the function of the dentition. However, for the context of this article, we shall focus on the restorative aspect that concerns with filling materials.
Tooth filling procedures begin by isolating the concerned tooth or teeth. This means ensuring that there is no flow of saliva on the tooth surface and that it is kept completely dry. Cotton rolls, rubber dam, high volume suction devices are usually used to serve this purpose. Next, the dental surgeon removes all the decay with the dental drill and at times with an instrument known as spoon excavator. Once the decay is removed, the type of tooth, the position of the tooth and the extent of decay is reviewed before choosing the final restorative material.
Be it deciduous or permanent, a teeth in the front region that requires restoration has to be rebuilt with a cement that is of tooth color. The most common tooth-colored restorations are Glass Ionomer Cements (GIC) and Composite resin. They can also be placed in posterior teeth if the extent of decay does not involve the cuspal regions of teeth. Amalgam is another conventional material used for posterior teeth that even finds measurable success even today. Once the chosen filling material is placed and set, the dental surgeon will check for any high points and ensure a proper bite by eliminating the high points.
Following the procedure the dentist will give some post-operative instructions which need to be strictly followed. Particular emphasis will be on what type of food and when should they be consumed. Some general instructions irrespective of the type of restorative material include:
- Not to eat anything from the side of the mouth where the cement is placed for 24 hours
- Not to consume any sticky, spicy, hard and hot foods for 2 days
- Avoid smoking, alcoholic drinks and mouthwash for at least 2 days
Most dental fillings set completely within 3 hours of their final placement. Yet, patients may feel a little uncomfortable after the procedure in case the dentist had to give an anesthesia for a deep carious lesion. It is thus recommended for the patient to not consume any hard foods or eatables of extreme temperatures (hot or cold), as it may lead to soft tissue injuries. Moreover, once the effect of the anesthesia wears off, the patient will begin to feel the pain caused by the consumption of these foods and will be in discomfort.
Foods and drinks of extreme temperatures should also be avoided in the initial week after a dental filling. This is because there is a chance that the tooth becomes sensitive after a filling for the first few days and takes time to adapt to the oral environment.
At times a filling procedure might lead to a sense of a different bite. The patient may take time to adjust to the new bite. When it comes to eating, it is recommended to consume food which does not require the mouth to be open out wide. Moreover, patients should consume less but easy to eat foods at a time in a bite. The more the patient chews the faster will they become adjusted to the new bite.
Your tooth has already beared the brunt of the dental drill and is still adapting to the biocompatible cement that has locked to the teeth. Hence, hard foods should be avoided for one week after a filling procedure. This is done to avoid any pain that can be caused by the exaggerated biting forces that are transmitted to the roots of the concerned tooth.
Sugary foods must be avoided for at least two days after a filling procedure. In case there is any unremoved decay on the tooth surface (slim chances) then the survived bacteria can consume the sugar and cause recurrent caries.
Consumption of recommended foods and liquids (normal temperature, soft, easy to chew, non-sticky) by the patient after a filling procedure can begin two hours after a glass Ionomer or composite filling. There is no particular time to recommence eating after a silver amalgam restoration. It takes 24 hours for an amalgam filling to set. Patients should thus chew from that side of the mouth only after 24 hours, but can start eating and drinking after two hours.
Following the post-operative rules for eating and drinking after a dental filling plays a major role in the success of treatment. The above-mentioned guidelines must be thoroughly followed for the tooth to rebuild its lost strength and function.