A filling is required when a tooth is damaged by dental decay or trauma. The aim of the filling is to restore the tooth’s normal function and shape and prevent further decay by closing off the space where bacteria can enter. Prior to placing a filling, the dentist will need to remove the decay. The dentist will then proceed to fill the cleaned-out cavity with a filling material of your choice (provided it is appropriate).
There are a range of dental filling materials each has its own benefits and suitability. The common dental materials are amalgam (sliver) fillings and composite (tooth-coloured) fillings.
From your family and friends, you may have heard root canal treatment is a painful and terrible experience! We hope to put this urban legend to rest.
Through dental decay, deep fillings or trauma – bacteria can travel into the internal chamber of the tooth known as the pulp. This will effectively damage or ‘kill’ the nerves/blood vessels. It can cause symptoms such as pain, tenderness and if left untreated can result in abscess/swelling.
The only effective way of getting rid of these bacteria is to carry out root canal treatment. This treatment uses two different mechanisms – using a file and antibacterial solution to dissolve and kill the bacteria. Once this has been achieved we aim to fully close the canal space by using a special filling material to stop bacteria from thriving inside the canal once again.
Why will antibiotics not do the job?
You may be thinking that if there is a bacterial infection, why would antibiotics alone not cure the problem? The basic explanation for this is that the bacteria inside the canal are protected and the antibiotics simply CANNOT reach them.
If the infection has spread to around your tooth, into the supporting structures or further afield, then antibiotics may be appropriate as part of a broader treatment plan. This will always depend on the judgement of the dentist following detailed history and examination.
Treatment with antibiotics alone will almost always ensure a return of the infection as the causative tooth has not been managed.
Dental extraction is the removal of a tooth. For many people this idea will be particularly frightening, especially if it is the first time or you have had a negative previous experience. However it is a very common procedure and can be carried out safely.
Teeth may need to be removed for a host of different reasons such as – severe pain, if they are causing infection, for orthodontic reasons (i.e. as part of a treatment plan for braces) or because of severe gums disease.
It is important to know, extractions are a last resort option as it is important to maintain as many of your own natural teeth for as long as possible. Prior to any extraction a dentist will always discuss all your options – including if other options are available and how the resulting gap will be managed (if applicable).
After an extraction, you can expect some mild pain/discomfort and also possibly swelling. The more difficult the extraction was, the more likely you will experience challenges following the procedure. Please see the ‘Problems after Extraction’ section for more information.