Fillings: The Basics


No one goes to the dentist in the hope of needing a filling. Yet needing a filling is one of the two possible outcomes of a dental exam. The other is hearing that you are all good (although you should floss more) and they will see you in 6 months.   fillings - paid - shutterstock 50804752

Getting a filling for a cavity puts you among the majority of people in the world today. More than 90 percent of all people have had a cavity in their lifetime. Your dentist can deal with the cavity fairly quickly and easily by putting in a filling.

These are the basic facts you should know about fillings.

What is a Filling?

A filling is one of several materials used to fill a hole (cavity) in your tooth. Cavities can be caused by tooth decay, cracking caused by grinding your teeth, or some other trauma like chewing ice or hard candy, chewing on some object, or damage to a tooth in an injury or accident.

Filling the hole stops or slows the growth of the cavity so that the tooth can perform its function again. Left untreated, the bacteria in a cavity or in your mouth can grow and endanger the rest of the tooth. Once that bacteria reaches the inside (root) of the tooth, restoring the tooth will require a more involved dental procedure called a root canal.

What Materials are Used in Fillings?

Today, dentists use one of five materials to fill teeth. Each of the materials has plusses and minuses. Your dentist will typically recommend one or two options based on a number of factors. The five materials are:

  1. Cast Gold – These fillings are very strong and durable (ideal for molars). Filling a tooth with gold is a little more complicated than some of the other materials. Gold fillings are also more expensive than some other options.
  2. Silver (also called Amalgam) – These fillings are strong and durable. They are less expensive than gold but are visible in your mouth. Silver fillings can also contribute to cracks and fractures in the tooth in the future.
  3. Tooth-colored composites – These fillings can be almost invisible in your mouth. They bond to your tooth for extra stability. They are more expensive than amalgam but less than gold. They tend to last one-third to one-half the time of gold or silver fillings.
  4. Ceramic – These fillings are very strong and durable. They are resistant to staining. The cost of ceramic fillings is almost as high as gold.
  5. Glass ionomer – This is the preferred filling material for young children and fillings below the gum line. The material releases fluoride to prevent further tooth decay. However, it is a weaker material than some of the others, making it prone to wear and damage.

What Happens when you get a Filling?

Sometimes the first step in filling a tooth is when your dentist gives you a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. Next, the dentist will use a drill or laser to remove the decayed part of the tooth. Then, once the decay is removed, the dentist will clean the area around the cavity and prepare it for the filling.

When the area is prepared, the dentist will put in the filling. Then she will finish and polish the tooth. The goal is to make the surface of the tooth smooth, to ensure that the filling sits properly in the tooth (and does not interfere with chewing and biting). If the filling affects your bite or chewing ability, it can cause discomfort, pain, and a headache.


We all hope that our dental exam will end with the dentist telling us that all is well. Sometimes the dentist will find decay and tell us we have a cavity. Having the cavity cleaned and filled will put you back on the road to good oral health. Having a tooth filled is not painful or frightening. With your knowledge of what to expect, you can relax and let your dentist fix your tooth and prevent future decay.

When to Start Flossing Your Child's Teeth?


As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, but you don’t always know your way around every aspect of the task of raising children. When it comes to establishing lifelong habits that affect their health, you want to get it right. After all, you want them to learn healthy habits young and you want them to maintain those good habits throughout their life.

But when is the right time to teach your child life skills like oral hygiene? Is there a set age or is it different for every child? How should you introduce brushing and flossing totheirour child?

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Here are five tips on how and when to teach your child to brush and floss their teeth.


1.Start Early

When it comes to teaching your child how to brush and floss their teeth, the earlier the better. You’ll want to explain the importance of caring for teeth and gums and the reasons for brushing and flossing, as well as why we do it every day, multiple times a day. If you think your child is capable of understanding this then it is time to help them learn how to brush their teeth and floss.


2.Use Flossers

Probably the easiest way to introduce your child to flossing is to use those flossers that are found in nearly every store that sells dental supplies. The concept is easy to grasp and they are intuitive to use. They are inexpensive and accessible. Traditional floss is our first thought, but is much harder to use - even for adults. That’s why we recommend using flossers to teach your children.


3.Help Them

When your child is first starting to brush and floss their teeth, you’ll want to help with flossing technique by giving them advice on what they are doing. You might want to create a system of rewards to keep them on track. This makes it easy to teach them about morning and night brushing, as well as making sure they brush and floss during the day after meals if possible.


4.Keep Supplies on Hand

If you are going to instill good habits in your child, like flossing their teeth, then you need to make sure that you have the appropriate supplies on hand at all times. It is important to maintain the momentum of making flossing a habit. Sometimes parents are surprised how much floss a child can go through even with the most conservative of estimates. You show them that their dental health matters by making sure that they are provided with all they need to maintain excellent oral hygiene practices.



5.Show and Tell

One of the most effective ways to teach your child that oral hygiene is important is to demonstrate to them that you, too, take it seriously by brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily. You’ll set a good example by practicing what you preach. Brushing together can be fun.


Feel free to embellish these tips to make them most effective with your children. Happy flossing!

How to Finally Conquer Bad Breath


It is an embarrassing but common problem. Luckily for you, if you suffer from halitosis or bad breath, there are things you can do to make the situation better.

We offer 9 tips backed by science that should help you get your bad breath under control.

9. Good Oral Hygieneconquer bad breath - sugar free gum

The first step in combating bad breath is to make sure you brush your teeth and floss regularly. This limits bad breath and stops the problem at its root for the most part. Poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to bad breath. If you brush, floss and see your dentist regularly you are taking the first step to end your bad breath problem.

8. Stay Hydrated

A dry mouth often contributes to bacterial growth, tooth decay, and bad breath. Staying hydrated is important to beating bad breath. The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure you drink plenty of water at all times.

7. Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Sugar-free gum can help you conquer this problem temporarily. Combined with other tips we offer here it can keep your breath smelling clean.

6. Cut Out Dietary Culprits

Many foods and seasonings are known for their odor. This odor may affect your breath. The odor of garlic or onions will be on your breath. But there are other culprits as well. For example, milk and some dairy products not rinsed from your mouth effectively can give it a sour smell. If you know that certain foods or beverages cause you bad breath, then you need to avoid them.

5. Eat Zinc Rich Foods

Eating foods rich in zinc can help you prevent bad breath because zinc is a natural antimicrobial that prevents the bacteria which cause bad breath from propagating.

4. Chew Parsley

Chewing parsley after a meal has been shown to have beneficial effects for your breath in keeping it fresh and clean.

3. Use Natural Oils

One solution that many people like in this area is lemon tree oil which is a natural astringent that helps keep your mouth clean and eliminates odor-causing bacteria. The best part about this solution is that there are many ways to incorporate oils into your oral care regimen and diet.

2. Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker or vaper, a critical step in your fight against bad breath is to quit smoking. Not only does smoke leave a distinctly unpleasant odor of its own but also it contributes to dehydrating and the drying of your mouth that causes bacteria to grow.

1. Go to Your Dentist Regularly

Another important component of your battle against bad breath is to make sure you see your dentist for regularly scheduled checkups. Decaying teeth and gum disease also cause bad breath. Your dentist is your biggest ally in this fight and can provide real insights into how to combat bad breath.

There are some medical conditions that affect the odor of your breath. Some medications also cause bad breath. After discussing your problem and eliminating many things that cause bad breath, your dentist may suggest that you see your family doctor to diagnose a possible cause.

6 Basic Oral Care Tips for Parents with Toddlers

Being a parent is never easy. Your child’s needs change daily. This is particularly true of toddlers. If you are like most parents, you will accept all of the help and advice offered. When it comes to your child’s health, it might seem that a new issue arises every day related to their health. One issue often overlooked by parents is their toddler’s oral health.toddler with tooth-brush - pixabayccofree -4089859 640

We have learned a vast amount in recent years about the inter-relationship of overall health and oral health. We suggest the following 6 basic oral care tips for parents with toddlers.

6. Take Care of the Baby Teeth

Prioritize care for baby teeth on a toddler just as you would their permanent teeth. Good healthcare practices should begin early. The toddler years are the perfect time to introduce appropriate dental hygiene practices. Baby teeth have several purposes. One of those purposes is to protect a space for permanent teeth. Teaching your child good oral hygiene with baby teeth is an ideal way to create a pattern for dental care as they mature. When you take care of the baby teeth you also have a perfect opportunity to teach your children about preventive care.

5. Use the Correct Amount of Fluoride Toothpaste

Studies have shown that most of us use too much toothpaste when we brush.

Toddlers need much less toothpaste than adults. All of the studies say that you should use only a tiny dollop or pea-sized amount depending on how many teeth your toddler has.

4. Do Not Give Them Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks public enemy number one for your child’s teeth. The large amount of sugar causes decay. These sugary drinks also contain acids that weaken the protective coating on their teeth through repeated exposure. The reason we recommend brushing before bedtime is to prevent plaque buildup. It also prevents bacteria that cause decay from building up overnight. The CDC’s latest recommendation is that young children be given only milk and water to drink.

3. Do Not Leave Them with a Sippy Cup Unless It Is Water

Sippy cups are a wonderful invention. But they should be used carefully. If you plan to leave your child with a sippy cup, fill it with water. Sugary drinks promote decay, fruit juices contain harmful acids, and too much milk can also damage the teeth of young children.

2. Tell Your Family Dentist or Pediatric Dentist If Your Toddler Insists on Breathing Through his mouth

It is common to see breathing through the mouth in toddlers but it shouldn’t be encouraged. From drying out the throat and mouth (which promotes bacterial growth that can lead to tooth decay or bad breath) to possible issues with occlusion, if your toddler is breathing out of her mouth you will want to consult with your pediatric dentist or family dentist about what you can do to help your child to become a nose breather.

1. Make Regular Visits to a Pediatric Dentist or General Dentist

Despite popular lore to the contrary, toddlers need to make regularly scheduled trips to the dentist. Dental visits should begin as early as possible after baby teeth begin to emerge. Many parents choose to see a pediatric dentist, others prefer a knowledgeable family dentist. Dentists understand the development of your toddler’s teeth and other ways your child is developing. Your dentist can offer reliable guidance about how to handle common issues from teething pain to tooth care and more. A dentist can help you establish the correct oral care regimen now so that your child will have a lifetime of excellent dental health. Your dentist will be able to identify any emerging problems that could affect your child’s oral development and health. Together, you and your dentist can create a care plan for your toddler.

These six basic oral care tips for parents with toddlers should help you to get started. Your dentist can offer other suggestions and tips for your developing child. A healthy child is a happier child. Oral health is part of general health.

Why You Shouldn't Pull Out Your Child's Loose Tooth

For decades it has been quite common for parents to tie a string onto the child’s loose tooth and the other end attached to a door, ball or rock, to help speed up the process of pulling out a tooth. The door would be slammed shut, the ball or the rock would be thrown, and the tooth would come with it.child with missing tooth SM-  paid - dreamstimefree 2952188

In many cases, this was not wise. Often, the tooth was still too attached to the gum for it to be taken out. Only when a tooth is really loose (which happens around the age of 5-6) should you pull it out.

There are two primary reasons why you shouldn’t pull out your child’s loose tooth.

First, the sensitive gum tissue can sustain unwanted damage. Not only does it hurt to extract the tooth, but your child also has an open wound in his or her mouth, prone to bleeding and infections.

Second, when you pull out teeth before a replacement tooth is ready, you form large gaps between teeth. This doesn’t look good. More important it affects the position and function of the teeth. The teeth on each side of the hole you created by pulling the tooth prematurely could converge. This results in pain or abnormal growth when the replacement tooth does come through. Its correct position is now blocked by overlapping ‘neighbor’ teeth. This causes harm to the tooth and its enamel and misaligns the teeth, often resulting in a need for braces or other corrective steps.

So then what should you do in the case of a loose tooth?

The answer is quite simple: just wait it out. It is in our nature to be curious and investigate when something is loose and wiggling within your child’s mouth. Patience from the parents is key in this situation. Usually, children will play with the tooth and wiggle it a little bit, which is fine so long as they don’t pull it out too early either.

Some children might want to speed up the tooth extraction process for one main reason: the tooth fairy. The quicker a tooth comes out, the quicker they get that shiny new coin or bill! But even in this case, it’s better to teach your child some patience: wait it out, instead of trying to take it out with force.

These are the primary two reasons why you shouldn’t pull out your child’s loose tooth prematurely. Just keep in mind that the readier a tooth is to fall out by itself, the smaller the risk of infection and misalignment. And the smaller this risk, the less chance of trauma for your children. Instead, just be patient and teach patience.


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