If you're hoping to treat a cavity at home, a homemade tooth filling may seem like a viable option. However, this improvised solution will not treat your dental decay. Learn more about how cavities are properly filled by trained dentists.
Signs of a Dental Cavity
A cavity is a hole in a tooth caused by ongoing dental decay, as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains. After eating a meal, bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth, forming acids. The acids remove minerals from your teeth and weaken the tooth structure. Eventually, this weakened structure breaks down, which allows bacteria to travel deeper into the tooth to form holes.
Although you may first notice a cavity when you see a visible hole in a tooth, the decay process begins far before that hole forms. Some symptoms to look out for include tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, pain when biting down or staining on the tooth, as the Mayo Clinic explains. If you notice any of these signs of a cavity, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
Why a Homemade Tooth Filling Won't Work
As the NIH explains, a cavity is permanent tooth damage that must be filled by a dental professional. While there is almost no risk involved in having a cavity filled, the University of Michigan explains that there are severe risks to letting dental decay continue to worsen. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and tooth abscess, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Rest assured that your dental professional has the expertise and equipment needed to give your smile a lasting solution.
How a Dentist Places a Filling
If you need a filling, your dentist will begin by numbing the affected area of the mouth with a numbing gel and local injection to maximize your comfort, as the University of Michigan notes. Once numb, your dentist will use a drill to clean out the infected part of the tooth structure. You may feel a little bit of vibration or pressure, but you shouldn't feel any pain because of the numbing agent. This procedure is one you simply cannot do at home without the assistance and expertise of a dentist and their dental tools. Once they have cleaned out the infection, your dentist will fill the tooth with a restoration material and shape it to its original form.
It's important to let your dentist place the filling, as there are many decisions in this process, including which filling material is best for your situation.
Typically, a dentist will recommend either amalgam (silver) or white composite fillings, as the American Dental Association (ADA) explains. Amalgam fillings are generally the fastest and cheapest option, according to the University of Michigan. A white filling, on the other hand, may be more natural looking, as the ADA explains. Speak with your dentist about the material that will work best for you.
Remember: A dentist is trained to finish a filling in a way that you cannot do with a homemade tooth filling. They will ensure that the shape of the filling will match your original tooth and biting surface. A filling is designed to restore your tooth for years to come, and when placed by a trained dentist, a silver filling may last 15 to 20 years, notes the Oral Health Foundation.
Although it may seem intimidating to face a dental drill, fillings are safe, effective, lasting and common. Instead of trying to concoct a homemade tooth filling, talk to your dentist and work as a team to get your teeth back in working order.