Are you about to get your first tooth filling? If so, you know that you'll have to be careful about how and what you eat for a short time. However, the actual requirements can be a little more involved than just avoiding chewing on one side of your mouth. Many fillings take time to fully set -- and anesthesia takes time to wear off -- so you have to watch out regarding both the types of foods you eat and when you eat them.
The two main types of permanent fillings -- composite and amalgam -- take different amounts of time to set. Composite fillings, which are those white ones that blend in with most teeth, are generally fully set once the dentist is done with you. Still, your jaw can be sore for a while, and your bite can feel unnatural. You can eat and drink pretty much right after you leave the dentist's office, but be aware of a few things for the first day:
- The anesthesia will make chewing awkward; chew on the other side of your mouth until the anesthesia fully wears off.
- The anesthesia can spread to parts of your tongue and cheek, increasing the risk of severely biting either or both.
- It's best to avoid biting down on hard or crunchy items on the side of your mouth that got the filling.
- The anesthesia will make using a straw nearly impossible unless you tuck it into the corner of your mouth on the side that didn't have any work done (and even then it can be awkward -- you may want to wait until the anesthesia has mostly worn off before attempting to use a straw.
Your dentist may impose stricter rules, but these give you an idea of what to expect.
For amalgam fillings, the silver ones, you have to wait longer. Those are not fully hardened by the time you leave the dentist's office. Do not eat for at least an hour after the procedure, or longer if your dentist orders that. Stick to soft foods for the next day.
After the initial day or so, you still need to be careful. Because the surface of your tooth has changed, your bite can change subtly. A dentist (such as James Tritton DDS PC) will try to design the filling so that the surface of your tooth has essentially the same contours as before, but minor differences can make biting down feel like there is less or more of a tooth there. Be careful biting down until you are sure that the filling isn't creating an obstacle to fully chewing.
If you want more information about how your dentist will want you to eat after the procedure, call his or her office now and ask about what to expect. That way, you can plan your menu for the day and start getting used to chewing on the opposite side of your mouth so that you don't absentmindedly chew on the wrong side.