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A man getting a teeth examination.

Dental cavities are common among Americans of all ages. Not many people escape childhood without getting multiple fillings. They’re necessary because of tooth decay that’s caused by cavities. If you need to have a filling, don’t worry. It’s a simple procedure that can be completed in a short visit to your dentist. Thanks to the use of a local anesthetic, it can be pain-free, too.

How you care for your dental health after a filling is important. You can enjoy the most effective, long-lasting results when you properly care for your teeth after each dental treatment. Consider the following tips to ensure that you do all the right things after getting a filling. After all, if you take good care of your teeth, you may not need another filling any time soon.

Tip #1: Proceed with Caution Until the Numbness Is Gone

After having a filling, it may take a few hours for the local anesthetic to completely wear off. While the mouth is still numb, it’s important to be very careful. Since you won’t be able to feel pain in the areas of your mouth that was anesthetized, you may accidentally hurt your gums, tongue, lips or teeth. Also, you may want to avoid eating until after you have full feeling back in your mouth, so that you don’t accidentally bite the wrong way or hurt yourself.

If the numbness lasts longer than your dentist told you it would, be sure to call your dentist with any questions and concerns.

Tip #2: Bite Carefully Into Food

Whenever you are ready to eat, bite very carefully into your food at first. This caution is especially important when biting down with the tooth that has the new filling. Not every kind of filling is fully set immediately after the treatment is completed, so watch out with harder foods like apples, carrots and croutons. If you need to bite something hard, do it slowly on the other side.

When you bite into something with a new filling, you may notice that there is some sensitivity in the tooth with the filling and perhaps the surrounding teeth, too. It may be sensitive to pressure, heat or coldness. This symptom is normal after a filling and typically goes away within days or weeks. If you’re worried, talk to your dentist.

Tip #3: Make Daily Dental Care Appointments With Yourself

Set a schedule for your dental care habits and stick to it. Treat your dental care routine as though it is as immovable as your work schedule. According to the American Dental Association, the best way to prevent future cavities is to be proactive about your dental health, and that includes the way you take care of your tooth with the new filling.

Make sure you always brush your teeth at least twice every single day with a fluoride toothpaste. You shouldn’t skip the day of your filling unless your dentist instructs you on alternate plans. You should also floss in between all your pearly whites at least once each day. Lastly, don’t forget to swish with mouthwash once per day, too. That is often best before bedtime.

Tip #4: Do Not Smoke

Do not smoke after you get a new filling. Of course, smoking is not a healthy habit for anyone. It’s especially bad for your overall oral health, and smoking after you get a filling should never be done while any part of the mouth is still numb. You may feel confident when you have most of the feeling back, but don’t risk it, or you could easily burn yourself or otherwise get hurt.

Smoking may also increase your risk of getting an infection after a filling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking weakens your body’s immune system and leaves your body more vulnerable to infections, including dental infections. In fact, smokers get gum disease twice as often as non-smokers. If you’ve been smoking for a long time or smoke a lot, your risk may be even greater. And sadly, treatments for gum disease are not as effective for smokers as non-smokers. The habit is basically a dental disaster.

Finally, keep in mind that it is important to focus on your oral health care after a filling. Treat your mouth with gentleness, but be vigilant about keeping a regular schedule of dental cleaning activities. Future cavities may be largely avoided when you maintain good dental hygiene and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Seeing your dentist for teeth cleanings every six months is an important part of preventing tooth decay and damage, too. Regular exams may reveal tooth issues early before they escalate into major problems. The dental office of Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA is proud to offer preventative care and a variety of options for restorative work and cosmetic treatments.