If a tooth has developed decay, it needs to be filled. That is a simple fact, and many dental patients are content with that knowledge and no more. They come to the Sacramento Dentistry Group, sit in the dental chair, close their eyes and only open them when the filling is compete and the visit is over. If you’re one of those types of people, you are not alone. Your Sacramento dentists won’t give you any more information than you want or ask for, and they don’t mind working on patients who have their eyes clamped shut. We even put some of our patients to sleep with the wonders of sedation or sleep dentistry.
Other patients want to understand exactly what’s happening during their dental procedures. To them we say, “Ask away, we love questions!” If someone wants to see a dental drill at work, as shown above, we’re glad to demonstrate one in action. Would you like to see which tools we plan to use to get your teeth in healthy shape? We don’t mind showing you. We work with these tools every day and we know they aren’t something to be afraid of, so we love to explain the latest advances in dental care.
When you get a simple filling or need to have one replaced, what exactly does that involve? If you don’t want to know, stop reading. But if you’re curious, it is fascinating. What some fear the most about coming to the dentist, the noise of the dental drill, really is the sound of a marvelous instrument that removes decay, fights infection and prevents tooth loss. Dental drills preserve smiles, so we think their hum is the sound of dental care to the rescue!
When your dentist prepares your tooth for a filling, as mentioned, he or she uses a small high-speed drill. Also known as a dental handpiece, the drill and its bit are actually quite tiny and effective. Modern dental drills rotate at up to 400,000 rotations per minute. That’s what’s making all that sound — a very powerful tool in a relatively small instrument.
If you work with drills in your hobby or job, you know a drill is useless without a drill bit. And as in carpentry or metal work, each job requires a specific bit. Dentistry is no different, except in this case the bit is a dental bur or cutter in various sizes and shapes. Dental burs are often made of steel with a tungsten carbide coating, or they are made exclusively of carbide. Other dental burs have a diamond coating to be effective on the extremely hard surface of the tooth. The head of the bur generally contains tiny blades for removing dental decay and tooth enamel.
As your Sacramento dentist begins to drill out a tooth to fill the cavity, a bit more of the tooth needs to be removed than just the decay. This is to ensure all the decay is removed, but it also creates a shape that ensures the filling stays in place for years to come and smooths out the enamel surface. While the tooth is being drilled and prepared for the filling, you may smell what is called tooth dust. This smell does not mean anything is wrong, that is just what teeth smell like when drilled.
After the tooth has been prepped, cleaned and dried, your dentist “fills” it. This involves a bit of pressure to ensure the material is completely filling the newly created hole. When composite material is used, a dental curing light fixes the resin-based composites. There is some buffing and correcting using the dental handpiece, ensuring that your tooth is smooth. At this point your dentist carefully checks your bite, making sure the new filling is not too high. Be patient and honest during this time, because saying it feels “just right” to get out of the dental chair quickly is not what your dentist wants to hear — he or she wants your bite to be perfect. Do not hesitate to call the Sacramento Dentistry Group if in the next few days you feel your new filling needs to be polished down more.
While filling a tooth is a lot more involved than filling a pastry, it is nothing to fear. Consistent tooth brushing, flossing, staying away from the aforementioned jelly donuts or acidic foods and beverages, combined with regular dental visits, will keep the cavities away. Keep in mind though, that even the best dental patients get cavities from simple lifetime wear of the enamel or genetic irregularities in its surface.
So if you need a dental filling and you want to stay in the dark, keep your eyes shut, that’s OK. But if you’re curious, we have answers. If you want to look at your tooth before it’s filled, that’s fine. If you want to see the drill, the anesthetic syringe and needle, the other instruments, that’s great too. Whatever it takes to keep your teeth free of decay and healthy, your Sacramento dentist is happy to work with your wishes. Eyes wide open or eyes firmly shut, all we ask is that you do agree to open your mouth.