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Many people by their adult years have had at least one dental filling. It’s unfortunately common to require this treatment for dental caries (otherwise known as cavities) and other issues.

However, if you aren’t used to seeing the dentist as often as you should, how do you know if it’s time for a filling?

We at Grace Dental Group recommend you see our provider Woo Young Lee, DDS, at least every six months. But we also want to empower you with knowledge about your oral health, especially if you want to know what the red flags are for a necessary filling. If you still aren’t sure if it’s time to make an appointment, read ahead to learn more.

Dental fillings 101

Why do people get dental fillings, and how common is it to need one? According to the CDC, 92% of US adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have had dental cavities in their permanent teeth, a problem that requires a filling. As such, the procedure is a common one.

Dental fillings involve the removal of decay and the reshaping of the tooth to fix issues like cracks caused by this decay. Then the hole in the tooth is filled with a bonding material. This is the most basic type of tooth restoration, which is one of the reasons why you want to catch this problem early. More severe issues might require more intensive treatments.

Fillings do not decay, but they can be affected by further decay in the surrounding tooth. This is why dental hygiene is so crucial during all stages of life, even and especially after you get a filling.

Recognizing it’s time to get a tooth filled

But how can you know you have a cavity? Look for these five signs to determine whether or not you need to make an appointment today.

1. Pain in the tooth

Don’t just ignore tooth pain. This is one of the first signs that something is wrong, and it should lead you to seek help. The pain may be sharp, throbbing, or steady, but whatever the case, it’s crucial to reach out.

2. Sensitivity in the tooth

Have you noticed that your tooth has become more sensitive to cold, heat, or when you bite down on something? This may be because you have a cavity, allowing the sensations affecting the outside of the tooth to get to the more sensitive inner part.

3. Change of color in the tooth

One of the very early signs of cavities is when a tooth changes color. A spot on your tooth may become lighter before the cavity forms, but once it starts to form, the tooth will likely get darker. You may even be able to see a hole in your tooth, though not always. Any of these signs should lead you to reach out to your dentist.

4. Jagged teeth

If you are flossing your teeth and notice that the string tears every time on the same tooth, it may be because you have a cavity forming there. This is a good sign that it’s time to seek help. Noticing with your tongue that a part of your tooth feels rough or jagged when it hasn’t before may be a good indicator.

5. Bad breath

Does your breath seem to smell bad no matter what you do? If this is the case, you might need a tooth filling. As cavities develop and worsen, more food can get stuck inside them, which will produce more bacteria, worsening odors.

Other reasons for a filling

Last but not least, we should mention that cavities aren’t the only reason one might get a filling. If an old filling falls out, if your tooth cracks, chips, or is simply weak, a filling might be a great way to deal with this problem.

Do you need a filling?

Due to the commonality of dental cavities, if you’re experiencing any of the signs above, it’s likely you’ll need a filling or another similar procedure. Book an appointment online or call (415) 921-8867 to visit our San Francisco, CA office. We’re happy to help!

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