Being informed that you’re going to need one or more fillings is never particularly inspiring. Which counts double, if you consider yourself to have pretty impeccable oral hygiene standards in general. You use the best electric toothbrush recommended by dentists, you’ve started using a high-quality water flosser and you’re careful when it comes to your dietary choices. Still, you find yourself needing a filling or two.
Unfortunately, evidence seems to suggest that some people are naturally more likely to need fillings than others. Just as outstanding oral hygiene doesn’t necessarily make you immune to cavities, those who don’t take care of their teeth nearly as well as they should sometimes get away with it entirely. As such, it’s best not to be too down on yourself next time you need a filling – the vast majority of us need them from time to time.
On the plus side, having a filling carried out these days isn’t even remotely as unpleasant as it may have been a couple of decades ago. All the time, technological advancements are being made which are making the unpleasant dental treatment a thing of the past. As in, confined to the history books. In fact, if you haven’t had a filling carried out for some time, there is a good chance you will be pleasantly surprised by how it happens these days.
Still, the one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the importance of ensuring that you look after your fillings, once they have been carried out. In the immediate days after a filling has been performed, there are certain things you should and should not be doing – both for the sake of your own comfort and to ensure the filling does its job properly.
Of course, it’s highly likely that your dentist will tell you everything you need to know, before you leave the clinic. Nevertheless, it’s always good to have at least an idea in advance about what to expect and what you should be doing.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of just a few essential aftercare guidelines, applicable to the vast majority of people after having one or more fillings:
- First of all, you are going to need to be extremely careful in the immediate moments after the filling not to cause any potentially severe damage to your mouth. Given the fact that it takes some time for the effects of the anaesthetic to wear off, you probably won’t be able to feel a great deal in your mouth for a couple of hours at least. Which means that if you make the mistake of biting your tongue, your lips or anything else that has reduced sensation, you could cause severe damage without realising it.
- Likewise, always wait until the aesthetic has completely worn off before going back to your normal eating and drinking habits. This is because you will for the time being be unable to determine what is too hot, meaning that you could end up seriously burning the inside of your mouth. It usually only takes 2 to 3 hours for the effects of the anaesthetic to fade, so be patient during this time and avoid anything hot.
- If you are the parent of a child who has had a filling performed, you are probably going to need to keep a close eye on them for a couple of hours at least. Younger children in particular are far more likely to succumb to biting their lips and tongue while anesthetized than adults.
- When the anaesthetic wears off, it is perfectly normal to feel a certain amount of sensitivity and mild discomfort in and around the treated tooth. What’s more, you may also find that the tooth became significantly more sensitive to hot and cold then it was before. Once again, this usually corrects itself or at least begins to fade within about 2 to 3 days after the filling has been carried out.
- During this period, and for reasons that are relatively obvious, it is in your best interests to stay away from anything that may be uncomfortable or painful. Given that your tooth may be particularly sensitive to hot and cold, you might want to give it a little longer before you start eating and drinking anything that may irritate it. Particularly during the first few days when sensitivity is usually at its highest.
- You may also note a certain amount of sensitivity or discomfort in the area around where the injection itself was administered. Though usually mild in nature and generally gone within a matter of hours, it can nonetheless linger for several days in some instances. If this is the case, there are plenty of topical preparations that can be picked up from pharmacies to help.
- Given the fact that many types of fillings need a couple of days to fully harden, you might also want to stay away from any foods that are particularly hard or sharp. Not to mention, anything sticky enough to pull the filling clean out of the tooth.
- Good oral hygiene is of course essential after having a filling performed. Nevertheless, you are probably going to need to be quite gentle for the first few days at least – both to avoid damaging the filling and to avoid discomfort.
- In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid anything particularly sweet for the time being at least. While the filling is setting in place, you don’t want to run the risk of sugar collecting and sticking around the treated area, which along with increasing sensitivity could also lead to bacteria building up on and in the tooth.
- Last but not least, there is really no reason whatsoever why you should experience severe or prolonged pain or discomfort following a filling. Should this be the case, the best advice is to get back in touch with your dentist at your earliest convenience.