Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
Tooth pain can seemingly arrive without warning. Your tooth is untroubled and gives you no cause for complaint—until one day it starts hurting. There are multiple causes for toothache, but if the tooth has previously had a cavity filled, it might be that your filing is on the verge of failure.
A Protective Barrier
Dental enamel forms the sturdy, highly-mineralized outer layer of your teeth. Your enamel forms a protective barrier over the rest of the tooth, which is largely made up of your dentin (the structure of your tooth immediately below your enamel). In the center of the tooth is its nerve (which is known as the tooth's pulp). When a cavity forms in a tooth, the enamel has been breached. Once the decay is removed and the cavity is filled, the outer surface of the filling material acts as a type of synthetic enamel substitute.
A Deteriorating Filling
So now your tooth's protective barrier is a combination of your natural dental enamel with the site of the cavity reinforced by the filling. This protection is intended to last for an extended period of time, but it won't last forever. The expected lifespan of a dental filling averages out at around ten years, but they can last longer—with proper care. Eventually, as a filling deteriorates, its cavity is no longer sealed. This allows contaminants (such as oral bacteria and even food particles) to enter the tooth, where the pulp reacts accordingly. It will become irritated, inflamed, and ultimately infected. Your tooth pain is your dental pulp letting you know that something is wrong.
A Worsening Infection
Your pain may not be constant. It can come and go, but this can be deceptive. You may think that the problem is not so serious, but this is a potentially dangerous point of view. The outlook for your infected dental pulp becomes worse with each passing day. When the dental pulp becomes so infected that it can't recover (and that's likely to be a when instead of an if), you will need a root canal. If you seek treatment quickly enough, it can be more than enough to simply replace the deteriorating filling.
Replacing Your Filling
The existing filling will be extracted, and the cavity will be inspected. If further deterioration has occurred, this will be removed, which will halt further decay. The cavity will be irrigated to remove contaminants, and then a new filling will be applied. This will once again seal the tooth, forming a protective barrier. You might have lingering sensitivity in the tooth for a brief period afterwards, but as your dental pulp recovers, this sensitivity will fade.
It's so important to have tooth pain around a filling treated as soon as you're able to. Delaying treatment allows the infection in your pulp to worsen, meaning that a delay can result in the need for more intensive treatment—which can (and should) be avoided.
Contact your dentist for more information about tooth pain.