FAQ: All About Fillings

fillings durham ncDoes it seem like every time you go to the dentist, you’re being told you need another dental filling? Dentists like Dr. Brent L. Blaylock of Durham, NC, wants you to be aware of the warning signs that you may need a filling, what to expect when getting a filling, and how to care for them.

Why Do You Need A Filling?

When food particles and plaque are allowed to collect on your teeth for extended periods of time due to improper brushing or excessively sticky food, a collection of bacteria begins to accumulate. These bacteria release digestive acids, which begin to dissolve the plaque and then move on to the enamel. The enamel begins to discolor gradually depending on how much it has dissolved or weakened and will eventually chip away and become what we call a “cavity” — a hole in your tooth’s enamel – if allowed to continue.

How Do You Recognize Decay?

  • Dark spots or greyish-black areas on your front teeth
  • Chipped-off areas that your tongue often goes into
  • Holes where food gets stuck

If you see or are experiencing any of the above, it may be time to see your dentist.

What Does Decay Feel Like?

It often begins with mild sensitivity to cold or hot liquids or transient sensitivity when eating sweet food. This condition may progress to prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold things and slight pain when biting or chewing. Eventually, if allowed to go untreated, you may feel an electric sensation or sudden sensitivity to certain foods and even constant pain that lasts for hours and needs medication to be relieved.

How Does the Dentist Choose A Filling?

Filling materials were once usually silver amalgam but were later done with cements like glass ionomer. But now the most widely used substance is plastic composite resin, a kind of tooth-colored material that is soft when applied but, when cured with a UV light, hardens while chemically bonding.

Dental Fillings in Durham NC

A dental filling is typically completed during a single visit to our cosmetic dentistry in Durham, NC. Dr. Blaylock will recommend the appropriate material to be used for the filling after a thorough examination to determine the condition of the affected tooth. Most patients prefer cosmetic or “white” fillings for their aesthetics, especially if the filling will be visible when smiling. Most dental fillings are completed in a single visit, with the exception of porcelain and gold fillings which are fabricated in a local dental lab. If the filling is being fabricated in a lab, 2-3 visits may be necessary to complete the process. At the first visit, Dr. Blaylock will take dental impressions, prepare the tooth and place a temporary filling if necessary.

How Much Will It Cost?

Costs of fillings can vary widely on:

  • The material being used by the dentist
  • Skill and experience of the dentist
  • The size of the filling
  • Amount of remaining tooth structure

What Should I Expect After A Filling?

A permanent filling when done with composite allows you to eat immediately afterwards with no restrictions. Your tooth is as good as new and you should be unable to see where the filing was placed. You may feel some mild to moderate sensitivity in the filled tooth which should subside within 48 hours. It may take some time and wear to adjust if the filling is slightly over or under the level of your bite.

Preventing Tooth Decay

It’s easier to prevent tooth decay than treat it. Preventive procedures such as applying sealants in the fissures of teeth to prevent food lodging in teeth or applying fluoride to attract more calcium and protect the tooth from breakdown by bacterial acid can be performed to help strengthen teeth against decay. Fillings themselves can be preserved by practicing proper oral hygiene at home, including daily brushing, mouthwash, and flossing.

How Long Will My Filling Last?

Contrary to popular belief, fillings do not last forever. Despite being made of a very hard material, fillings usually last anywhere from 3-7 years on average. However, they do require regular annual examinations to ensure they’re holding up well. If you see any discoloration, darkening, or chipping under the filling, schedule to see your dentist immediately. These signs show a breakdown and indicate the need for replacement of the filling.

If you are in the Durham, NC, area and would like a consultation with Dr. Blaylock about a possible cavity or any dental concern, call 919-518-9963 or schedule online today!


3206 Old Chapel Hill Road
Suite 300
Durham, NC 27707

Schedule Appointment

new patients 984-213-4695

current patients 919-493-8036


Monday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Tuesday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Wednesday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Friday: Closed