When Can I Eat After a Filling?

Filling a damaged or decayed tooth is a dentist’s way of restoring normal tooth function and shape. When you have a damaged tooth, your dentist may recommend a filling for you. It involves an anaesthetic to numb the tooth, removing the decay, and filling the cavity with a material. People who undergo this procedure often ask, “When can I eat after a filling?” Actually, the answer depends on the extent of the tooth damage and the type of filling used. What’s critical is understanding how to care for a new filling. 

When Can I Eat After a Filling?

There are basically two kinds of filling: white filling and silver filling. While it’s always best to follow your dentist’s instructions, you can take the following tips as references:

  • If you received anesthesia: The anesthesia normally begins to wear off in approximately 1 - 3 hours, and it is important that you take care not to chew on the side that is still numb. This will avoid any damage to your lips or tongue.
  • If you had a white filling: The white filling is also known as composite filling, and it will be immediately hardened by your dentist using a dental curing light (blue light). Therefore, people who get a composite filling don’t have to wait to eat if you do not feel numb any more.
  • If you had a silver filling: The silver filling is also known as amalgam filling, and it may take 24 hours to get stable. It is advised to avoid hard or chewy food for 24 hours after having a silver filling placed.

Caring for a Filling

Having known the answer to "when can I eat after a filling", you must also want to know how to care for your filling. Whenever you get any kinds of tooth filling, tooth sensitivity can become a problem. The sensitivity and pain can last for a few hours or even a couple of days after the procedure. Tooth filling may also make eating or drinking uncomfortable. Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to minimize any pain and discomfort:

1. Chew Slowly and Gently

Chewing food generates an enormous amount of pressure on your teeth, and a filling can make your teeth sensitive to pressure, therefore you’d better chew slowly and gently to protect your sensitive teeth. You can also try to chew on the other side of your mouth.

2. Close Your Mouth When Chewing

Some people can experience a sudden, sharp jolt of pain when the repaired tooth is exposed to the air. It usually will get better over a couple of days. In the meantime, you should close your mouth when chewing to reduce the contact with cold air.

3. Eat Non Sticky Foods

You should avoid any sticky foods after a filling, especially after silver fillings, because fillings take time to settle down. You must not want to risk dislodging the new filling by chewing sticky food. 

4. Avoid Hot/Cold Food and Beverages

People may notice that the tooth with a new filling is sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. The sensitivity always lasts for a few weeks. Therefore, it’s better to avoid extremely hot/cold foods and beverages during this period of time.

5. Avoid Sweets

In the first part, we only answered the question "when can I eat after a filling”, but didn't mention what you can't eat. Here is another kind of food that you should avoid: Sweets. Sweets are loaded with fermentable carbohydrates which can easily combine with the bacteria in your mouth. Foods and beverages with high sugar contents may trigger sensitivity, and can promote the bacterial growth underneath your new filling. Therefore, you should avoid eating sweets and foods contain lots of sugar.

6. Avoid Hard Candy, Nuts, or Ice

It’s not a good idea to chew hard things such as nuts, hard candy or ice right after a filling. This is particularly important for people who get white fillings because these fillings can break easily.

7. Check for High Points

If the new filling is too high, it will have to bear lots of pressure that should be shared by all the teeth. It will not only cause pain, but also place your muscles and tendons under stress, causing spasms that may lead to joint problems. If this is happening, you should call your dentist to correct the situation.

8. Use Appropriate Dental Products

It is a good idea to use dental products containing fluoride. Fluoride helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel and helps to reverse early signs of tooth decay. Besides, it also helps extend the life of your fillings and protect your teeth from new cavities. However, using dental products that contain alcohol can decrease the durability of fillings and stain them. Therefore, do not use dental products with alcohol content.

9. Avoid Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth is a bad habit that should be avoided because doing this can damage your fillings as well as your teeth. Biting nails, holding objects or opening bottles with your teeth are also bad habits. If you often grind at night when you sleep, you should ask your dentist about using a mouth guard. 

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