Category Archives: White Fillings

Do cavities disqualify me from whitening?

I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s been way to long since I went to the dentist for an oral hygiene appointment. But I’ve always had good teeth. So, I was shocked when I heard I had a few cavities at my last appointment. Then, the dentist explained that fillings can’t be changed later, so now was the time to get teeth whitening. Are they just trying to sell me on whitening? When I looked online, it says you’re not supposed to get your teeth whitened when you have cavities. I’m confused.

-Paul in New Mexico


That’s interesting that they recommended teeth whitening. Did you pose the question, or how did it come up?

Generally speaking, the dental office is correct. Once composite fillings have been placed, the color cannot e changed. Replacing them at a later date would be the only way to lighten the color of the filling material.

Teeth whitening ingredients are very powerful. Sensitivity is common with teeth whitening treatments. So, if you have cavities, it is possible the sensitivity may be heightened because more the nerves are exposed when there is decay.

Getting the cavities filled should be your first priority. You can get the whitening done at anytime. It would be difficult to anticipate the exact shading of your whitened teeth. But, how much of the filling will show? Many people have cavities filled and they are not visible 99 percent of the time.

It can also be assumed that the dentist wouldn’t have even suggested teeth whitening, if you weren’t a good candidate. Therefore, it is quite possible that your cavities are small and probably shouldn’t be an issue. So, there is probably nothing wrong in getting the whitening done first, unless the doctor recommends against it. You just need to be cautious and aware of the possibility of experiencing sensitivity.

You can use a fluoride rinse prior to whitening to dull the sensitivity. The dentist may have some recommendations on a specific brand, or you may be able to find one at the drug store. If you are still concerned, the dentist may be able to provide fluoride treatment in the office to help protect the certain areas where the cavities will be filled.

Most people don’t have any sensitivity when whitening teeth. But, it’s good to know how to take the best precautions.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Pain after a filling.

I had a filling done in my tooth. It was one of those mercury-free, white fillings. Well today when I bite down, it really hurts. My jaw even feels like it hurts. It feels like the back part of my jaw is hitting the top part of the tooth. It’s a left canine tooth. I hurts so much I don’t really feel like eating. Any idea what’s up? It’s my first white filling.

– Pamela in Kansas

It is always difficult to give you any specific recommendations with such little information. So whenever you are having an issue or pain, it is always important to contact the dentist that did the work right away. You mention that is is a white composite filling, but you failed to mention how large it is. Sometimes, when you get a new filling it can be a little high for your bite. The dentist likely tried to adjust it while you were in the office, but you were probably numb. So sometimes you will need to return to have it adjusted.

The adjustment won’t hurt. It will only take a couple of minutes. That is most likely what is going on here. It isn’t a dental emergency, but give them a call right away to get it take care of. Or if you are having any throbbing pain or pulsing, you may need to have more treatment done.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Dental dams

Why do dentists use a dental dam? I really don’t like the way it feels in my mouth. It seems like whenever I need a dental treatment, it is used.

– McKenzie in Mississippi


Dental dams or what are sometimes referred to as rubber dams are comprised of latex. They are typically used when you need a root canal treatment and sometimes a dentist may use them to fill a cavity. The main benefit of using a dental dam is to keep the tooth and the work area dry. If the tooth that is being worked on remains dry than there will be less bacteria. This is because there is bacteria in saliva. This is especially important during a root canal treatment since the procedure is being done to remove the infection. Bacteria in the tooth area may cause a reoccurring of the infection.

Another thing that is helpful to a dentist using a dental dam is that it keeps the tongue out of the way of the area where the dentist is working. It also helps to keep water, any tooth particles, as well as dental materials from being swallowed. If you are a patient that gags a lot, it can help because it can help avoid triggering the gag reflex. Today it is very common for dentists to use white fillings instead of silver amalgam filling. With white composite it is essential that the tooth stays dry so the bonding technology can work properly. If bacteria interferes with this process the chances for future tooth decay are higher.

If you are especially nervous or anxious about the use of the dental dam, talk to your dentist about it. There are many techniques or sedation dentistry treatments that can help you relax.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I hate my sensitive teeth.

My teeth are super sensitive because the roots are exposed. I can’t even brush my teeth near the gum line without irritation. I have tried many different toothpastes, but nothing seems to work. Do you know if there is anything that can be done to help?

– Paul in Florida


Root exposure and the sensitivity associated with it is terrible. I would meet with your dentist to explore your options. There is fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse that my be helpful. One kind of fluoride is made of sodium and if that one doesn’t work for you, there is another that is stannous based. The latter seems to be more popular among patients. Give this method a try and give it some time, approximately six weeks or so. If that is unsuccessful, there is a fluoride treatment that can be applied to the exposed roots. This can be done at a normal cleaning or checkup. This will likely not be covered under your dental insurance. But the fee is small. Relief from this treatment should last for about six months and can be reapplied when you go in for dental cleanings.

If you still haven’t found that these options work for you, it may be recommended that you have the root surfaces covered with white composite fillings. This should work almost immediately, but it is usually not the first route that dentists will try. Typically dental insurance will cover this treatment, but you will be responsible for a co-pay. Most patients don’t require any anesthetic for white fillings. A gentle dentistry technique is music or movies to distract you. Or if you are particularly anxious, many dentists offer everything from nitrous to sedation dentistry.

Hopefully this information was helpful.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

I don’t think I need fillings.

Last week I decided to see a different dentist. Let me start by explaining that I have excellent dental hygiene. I brush and floss everyday, both in the morning and at night. I stay away from sugary foods and soda too. I work really hard to take good care of my teeth and my previous dentist has told me that my teeth are in great shape. Well, the new dentist I just saw told me that I have five cavities on my back teeth. I had them filled with the composite material.

Ever since that dental appointment, I have been in pain. It hurts when I bite down and I really am wondering if I really had any cavities in the first place. I’m suspicious enough to take my recent x-ray to a new dentist for a second opinion. I saw that x-ray and I didn’t see anything. I know I’m not a dentist but I guess I kind of want to find out if there were really cavities or not. It all just seems fishy to me that I’m now in pain and at my last check-up last year I didn’t have any cavities.

– Rhonda in Oregon


It may be a possibility that you did have cavities last year and your previous dentist didn’t see them. Sometimes dental x-rays may not be done at the appropriate angle, so it is not out of the realm of possibilities that your last dentist missed them.

Although, if you are feeling suspicious than that is a valid concern. You can request the x-rays and take them for a second opinion. If you decide to follow through with this than you need to tell the new dentist very little to let them make the determination on their own. Also, don’t share the name of the dentist you are checking out. Simply request a second opinion on some recent dental work you had done without planing any seeds of doubt or suspicious activity. You don’t want the dentist to agree with your assessment just so you will come to see him. Also, if the dentists are acquaintances you may not get the best opinion because they may not want to criticize the other one. If you really are after an honest, unbiased opinion you can always go to another city.

In regard to your concern about the pain after your white composite fillings. It is possible that they were not bonded correctly. One way to test that theory is when you clench your teeth together, does it hurt? Or is the pain only while chewing? If the pain happens only when you are chewing, there may be an issue with the bonding. If clenching your teeth hurts, a simple bite adjustment may do the trick. But if the pain continues, it is possible the fillings may need to be replaced.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.

Related links: mercury-free dentist, holistic dentist

I am looking for a dentist that doesn’t use mercury.

I am in search of a holistic dentist that does not use mercury in the fillings. I have heard that amalgam fillings are dangerous and are at risk for leaking. My dentist still uses amalgam and I am ready to find a new one.

– Tina in New Mexico


Although amalgam fillings have been deemed completely safe by the American Dental Association, you are not alone in being concerned about the safety of fillings with mercury in them. There are no special credentials or designations required for a dentist to be considered a holistic dentist. When you search on the web or call in to find out more information, you need to ask if they place composite fillings or what are commonly called white fillings. There are many benefits of choosing white composite over silver amalgam fillings. There is less post-operative sensitivity, less of your natural tooth structure is drilled away, and they look nicer too. There are mercury-free dentists out there that no longer use amalgam. Some holistic dentists also offer sanitary amalgam removal services if you are interested.

Hopefully that helped to answer your question.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.


Is the rash on my face from my filling?

I have a broken back tooth that was previously filled with a black filling. Since then I have a rash and much itching on the outside of my face where the broken tooth is. There is also a round ringlike circle on my face. Should I be worried??? I am having it crowned in another month or so.
– Louise from Wisconsin

I don’t think the rash, itching, and circle on your face have anything to do with your filling. While sometimes people are allergic to filling materials and materials used in crowns, the reaction is usually confined to inside the mouth, like the gum tissue that touches the filling.

And when you talk about a black filling, I’m guessing that this is an old, corroded silver filling. They are called silver fillings, but they are actually about half mercury and slightly less than half silver, with some copper, tin, and other possible metals in the mix. Some people worry about the health risks of fillings that contain mercury, but those worries are over suble, long-term effects. I am not aware of any reports associating amalgam fillings with a rash on the face.

If this rash appeared right after your dental appointment, it’s possible that you have an allergy to the latex in the gloves the dentist used.

This blog sponsored by Cleveland implant dentist Dr. Brad Hylan.

Read more about mercury-free dentistry.