Office Visits

After Your Visit

After your visit to our office you may have questions about what to expect. On this page we will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

How long will I be numb?

It often depends on how much local anesthesia ("Novocain") you received during your treatment.  Some patients already feel the numbness leaving the face by the time they are leaving the office.  At other times, especially if you had treatment performed on the mandible, or lower jaw, the numbness may last  one to two hours.

What precautions should I take?

While you are still numb be very careful of hot food, also be careful that you do not bite your lip or cheek.  If you had a composite restoration ( a "white filling") the filling  is as hard as it is going to be by the time you leave the chair, so you do not have to be careful of it.  If you had an amalgam restoration (a "silver filling") you will need to be cautious and chew on the other side until the next morning.

Will I be sensitive after my filling?

It is very normal to have some sensitivity after a filling.  Dr. Nelson will inform you if the filling was very deep, in which case you may experience some cold sensitivity for a day or so.  If you had anesthesia (a "shot") the injection site may be sore for  a while.  If Dr. Nelson had to place a band around the tooth in order to place a restoration, your gum may be irritated .  BUT, please note that generally any sensitivity you have should fade as time goes by.  Usually there will be no discomfort after 48 hours.  If you are still bothered by a new filling and it has been more than two days, please call the office.  The most common cause for any discomfort after two days is a filling that is too high to the bite.  This can be easily adjusted in a brief folow-up visit to the office.  It will not get better by itself, it MUST be adjusted  at the office.

What is the difference between a composite ("white") filling and an amalgam ("silver") filling?

The real difference is simply the type of material used.  Amalgam or silver fillings have been used for over a hundred years.  Despite some bad press, they are very good restorations and have been known to last as long as twenty or more years.  Large amalgam restorations, that cover three or more surfaces, can over years of use, contribute to tooth fracture. This is why Dr. Nelson often recommends a crown over teeth with old, large amalgams. 

Composite  or white, tooth-colored fillings have been in use for 25 or so years.  Originally used only in the front of the mouth because they were not strong enough to withstand the chewing pressures of back teeth, composite material research and development is ongoing.

Every year newer, stronger, longer-lasting composite materials are being introduced.  A composite filling placed on a back tooth today, with the latest material available will probably last at least five years.

But since there are not any five-year-old fillings using the latest material, this is only an estimate.  Bottom-line, composite fillings look much better, but do not last as long as a silver filling.  However, the smaller the filling, the longer it will probably last.  In addition many insurance companies will not pay the full cost of a composite filling.  They usually cover what they would have paid if it had been a silver filling.  This means that with most insurance the patient will have a higher co-pay for a composite filling.