If you have a tooth that's decayed, damaged, or cracked, it's important to restore the tooth so that it retains its functionality. A restored tooth also improves your appearance, giving you the best possible smile. Dental fillings are a popular treatment for fixing damaged or broken teeth thanks to their affordable cost and widespread availability. Fillings can be used to repair large or small defects. Here's what you need to know about this common dental treatment.  

1. The Procedure Usually Only Takes One Appointment

One reason that dental fillings are a top restorative treatment is that the appointment to place a filling is fast and convenient. Your dentist will typically use a local anesthetic to numb the area of your mouth with the diseased tooth. Individuals with dental anxiety or those who find it hard to remain still during the appointment may utilize other alternatives for anesthesia. 

Before filling your tooth, your dentist will remove the damaged portion of your tooth and clean the area. Your filling is then placed. A special light may be used to help harden the filling. 

2. There's Minimal Aftercare Required for a Dental Filling

There's no special care required after your tooth is filled. You're free to eat and drink as soon as the anesthesia for your filling wears off and you feel comfortable chewing and swelling. You'll brush and floss any teeth with fillings just like you do your natural teeth.

3. Dental Fillings Can Help You Maintain a High Level of Oral Health

It's important to promptly repair a damaged tooth to prevent it from impacting your oral health. When a tooth is left damaged or broken, you're at risk of developing an infection that can harm your other teeth, gums, and other oral tissues. This infection can even spread to other parts of your body and affect your overall health.

Unchecked tooth decay will continue to damage your tooth and require more intensive procedures to fix the tooth, like a root canal or crown. Some teeth may even need to be extracted. 

4. Dental Fillings Eventually Need to Be Replaced

While dental fillings are a long-lasting treatment for repairing damaged teeth, they don't last forever. Many dental fillings last approximately 10 years, while others may have a longer life span. The life span of your fillings will depend on the materials and how your habits cause wear and tear on your teeth. For example, if you have a habit of grinding your teeth, this can shorten the life span of your fillings. 

Contact a local dentist to learn more.