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Step by step – Now Know One Tooth Better, or dental filling voyeurism.

While many of us have had dental fillings, we seldom get to see them being done.  Many a parent has commented about not knowing what work actually goes into placing a filling, until they watch his/her child having it done!  We’ve written about fillings before, here, here and here, and this case is a pretty routine filling that we have documented at several points in the process.  Hope you enjoy.

A failing filling with recurrent decay along with decay on another portion of the tooth created a need for a new filling.

Preoperative view of tooth. Decay on the part of the tooth not already filled created a need to place an all-new filling.
View of the tooth after decay and old filling have been removed. The blue background is the rubber dam which allows a cleaner operating field.
A metal band has been placed and secured around the tooth. This creates a wall beyond which filling material will not spill.
Even more gadgetry is attached to the tooth. In this case, metal rings are affixed to the band on either side of the tooth in order to create fillings that are tight between the teeth. This is important as loose contacts between teeth will lead to a food trap.  The tooth is now ready to accept bonding material and filling.
Completed filling. Prior to patient departure, the bite as well as the contours need to be adjusted with a goal towards restoring original form and function. The colour match of modern white filling materials is significantly better than in years past.

This is such a routine procedure for us that we can usually perform the procedure without speaking at all!  Our assistants can usually predict what the dentist is going to need before he even realizes it.  There are over 25 steps to doing a filling like the one above, but when systematized, it becomes routine.

Unfortunately, the best dentistry is invisible – mimicking healthy natural tooth.  If the dentistry is on back teeth, it becomes even harder to appreciate.  While this post looks very narrowly at only one tooth, the interrelationships between teeth and gums, adjacent teeth, opposing teeth, and ultimately the jaw joints and muscles are all factors that must be taken into account.

Sensitivity the day after a filling is expected, and should decrease day by day.  If it does not abate, or in fact worsens, we usually find that the bite on the filling is slightly high.  When the bite is adjusted down, the sensitivity typically disappears.  A patient can resume eating on a filling immediately after placement, but should wait until the anesthetic wears off – lip, tongue, and cheek biting are common when people are numb.

For a personalized assessment of your oral condition, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We’d love to be your dentist in Barrie.

One final comment – if you understand the title, your mind is either as awesome or as twisted as ours.


Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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