Dental jargon can leave many a patient feeling confused. As if sitting in the dentist’s chair wasn’t intimidating enough. While there are many cryptic phrases and terminologies thrown about, here we shed some light on what it means when your dentist says you have a buccal or need a buccal filling.
What Is a Buccal?
Simply put, the buccal is the tooth surface opposite the cheek. Therefore, every single tooth comprises five surfaces. They are as follows:
This is the surface on the side. It is nearer to the mouth opening.
This is also on the side but is nearer to the back.
This refers to the top of the tooth. This is what grinds food and helps you chew.
This is the inner surface. It is close to the tongue.
This is the surface of the tooth that is closer to the cheek.
Why Does It Matter?
It is common knowledge that surfaces that are smooth and plain are far easier to clean. Throughout the day, while you’re going about your business, your mouth does a fair bit of self-cleaning as well. The flow of saliva and perpetual movement of the tongue aids this process. Any particles of food or bacteria that are on these surfaces get cleaned.
The buccal surface is also generally smooth. Sometimes, however, lower molars can develop buccal pits. These are tougher to clean. Food and bacteria that get stuck here rely on proper brushing to get clean. Grooves and pits between the cusps need special attention while brushing.
If this isn’t tended to, it can encourage plaque to settle in and eventually lead to tooth decay. Plaque, which plays a significant role in tooth decay, can be found:
- In grooves and pits.
- Along the gums and gum line.
- At the contact point. This is between the upper and lower teeth, where the teeth touch each other.
Plaque is a sticky coating that is brimming with bacteria. It is a yellowish build-up on the teeth that destroys the outer shell known as the enamel. As a result, infrequent brushing leads to dental cavities, which are tiny holes in the teeth.
To combat this, you should brush a minimum of two times daily. You should also stay away from sweet snacks. Also, remember to floss every night before bed and gargle with a mouthwash that contains fluoride.
What Does It Mean When My Dentist Says I Have a Buccal?
Dentists use a lot of jargon when communicating with their patients. For example, if your dentist has ever mentioned that you need a buccal, it simply means that your buccal surface needs filling.
You may need a buccal filling if your teeth exhibit signs of tooth decay. However, before we discuss what tooth decay looks like, we need to understand its reasons.
Reasons Behind Tooth Decay
We all have bacteria in our mouths. Not all bacteria are harmful; some come with a host of benefits.
When it comes to tooth decay, however, some bacteria mix with food particles and form plaque. As aforementioned, this is a yellowish, sticky coating that affects the enamel. Furthermore, the starch and sugar found in foods are acted upon by the bacteria in plaque to form acids. These acids are solely to blame for shedding the layer of enamel on your teeth.
Gradually, if this plaque goes unnoticed or untreated, it turns into a hardened layer of tartar. Tartar and plaque together play a role in irritating the gums, leading to gum disease. If you ingest food laden with sugars or starch, you’re not doing your teeth any favors.
Early Signs of Tooth Decay
If you notice white spots on your teeth, take it as a sign of the onset of tooth decay. These white spots highlight areas where your tooth (or teeth) has lost essential minerals.
Because this is an early sign, addressing it may well reverse the process. Teeth enamel has the natural ability to undergo repair, but you have to encourage this process by cutting back on starch and sugar and brushing and flossing frequently.
If left untreated, the decay will worsen over time, causing more mineral loss. Before you know it, your enamel will become weak, leading to cavities or dental caries. This is the point of no return. Do not delay treatment beyond this point because it will only cause more pain and make your teeth vulnerable to infections.
The only available option you have now is to make an appointment with the dentist, who will repair the cavity with a filling.
Who Is at Risk?
Apart from people whose diets consist of starchy and sugary food and drink, others are susceptible to tooth decay.
Those Who Don’t Produce Enough Saliva
This includes individuals whose saliva production is affected by certain medications, diseases, and even medical treatments.
Those Who Don’t Get Ample Fluoride
This is where fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes come in.
Toddlers and Babies
If they’re given bottles or juices before bed, the sugars in the drinks can have an adverse effect.
Older people have receding gums. In addition, based on their age, their teeth are likely to be more worn out. This can be reason enough to bring about tooth decay.
Signs of Tooth Decay
- Heightened sensitivity to hot and cold food and drink
- Stains on teeth (white and brown in color)
- Fevers and facial swelling
Diagnosing Tooth Decay
Generally, your dentist will try to determine if your teeth are undergoing decay by poking and prodding. You can let them know if you’ve been noticing anything out of the ordinary. Be sure not to leave anything out, even if you think it’s unrelated or irrelevant. Remember, they’re the professional which means they might link together pieces of information using their expertise.
Additionally, your dentist may also request you get an x-ray done.
Treating Tooth Decay
This depends on how much damage your teeth have been through. As far as cavities and decay are concerned, there are many ways to address the problem.
This applies only if tooth decay in its early stages. After that, toothpaste and mouthwash containing fluoride usually do the trick.
If you have a cavity, your dentist will recommend fillings. This means they will first cast aside the decayed tissue. Then, they will fill the affected tooth.
Root canals are administered when the infection has gone deep into the pulp of the teeth. This involves removing decayed pulp before cleaning the inside of the tooth along with the root.
Root canal procedures are generally broken down into two sessions. The first session entails the above as well as a temporary filling. In a follow-up appointment, the dentist will either give you a permanent filling or a crown. The latter essentials cover or cap the tooth in question.
If the situation has gotten way out of hand and even a root canal can’t save it, your dentist will suggest a tooth extraction.
To replace the missing tooth, implants or bridges are used. It is essential not to leave the gap as is because you will be risking altering your bite.
What Is a Buccal Filling?
A buccal filling is simply one that fills in the cavity on the tooth’s buccal surface. Buccal fillings are needed if there is a gap between the enamel and gum.
How Do You Know if You Need a Buccal Filling?
If you’re unsure whether or not you need buccal fillings, it may be time to visit a dentist. However, if eating sticky sweets or drinking cold water unleashes some pain in that region, take it as a sign.
Ignoring this problem may result in a cavity shortly, so it’s best to seek treatment right away. Unfortunately, even frequent brushing will not help at this point and may exacerbate the situation. This is because brushing can cause the tissue to erode, making a solid case for an impending root canal.
How Long Do Buccal Fillings Last?
This depends on what material is used for the filling. The following substances are usually used:
- Amalgam (alloys of silver, mercury, tin, copper, or zinc)
- Composite resin
These last up to 30 years. They last a minimum of 15 years, which is also a long time.
Gold fillings are durable, and they don’t corrode. However, they are more expensive on the downside and can even cost as much as ten times as silver fillings.
They also warrant more visits to the dentist. Furthermore, if you have a silver filling right next to a gold one, it can result in a galvanic shock. A sharp, piercing pain denotes this. This is brought about by the two metals mixed with saliva in the mouth. So even though it’s rare, it’s still something to consider when thinking about getting gold fillings.
They last between 10-15 years before being replaced.
They are made of various metals such as tin, silver, copper, and ever mercury. The mercury is what binds them all, making for a more durable substance. Some patients are understandably apprehensive about the presence of mercury. However, you can put your concerns to rest because mercury is non-toxic once it becomes a part of amalgam fillings.
Amalgams are cost-effective and the preferred choice for filling cavities in areas that remain moist, such as buccal cavities and molars.
Composite Resin Fillings
These fillings don’t last very long by comparison. They need to be replaced every 5-7 years. However, the plus side is that they blend in really well with the teeth because of the color.
They also attach well to teeth. Apart from serving as a substance for filling cavities, the composite resin is used to mend broken or chipped teeth. You can sometimes retain more of the original tooth material for such fillings, which you can’t say about silver amalgam fillings.
On the flip side, composite resin fillings tend to wear out faster than their silver counterparts. They also don’t hold out well against constant chewing and grinding. This is especially true if they are used to fill out more extensive dental caries.
Composite resin fillings also take longer to set in place and require multiple sessions to get right when used for onlays or inlays. They can also get chipped in places and cost close to twice as much as amalgam fillings.
If there is a gaping cavity, a porcelain filling might be best suited to fill it. Porcelain fillings are also used to fill out cavities that lie flat or horizontally on teeth. Moreover, if the affected tooth is visible while speaking or smiling, dentists suggest you opt for porcelain filling so the color doesn’t stand out.
Several patients are even going to get their metallic fillings substituted because they don’t like being conscious of their smiles.
Because porcelain is on the brittle side, however, it can break and chip off. Porcelain fillings are also pricier and last anywhere from 5-10 years.
If your dentist says you have a buccal, it points to a cavity that needs filling. Discoloration of the teeth and other signs of decay should not go unnoticed either, let alone untreated. There are no compromises in oral hygiene, especially the grooves and irregular surfaces of the teeth.
If you have questions or concerns about your teeth, ask Soft Touch today. It is better to error on the side of caution than to wait out a problem while getting worse. Often, a situation that seems scary to you may not be a severe health issue when handled promptly.