144 Where There Is No Dentist 2012
WHEN TO PLACE A FILLING
You can fill a cavity if the tooth does not have an abscess. There is
probably not yet an abscess if:
• there is no swelling of the face or gums
near the bad tooth.
• the tooth hurts only once in a while —
for example, if it hurts only when eating
or drinking something cold or sweet, or
when breathing cold air.
• the tooth feels the same as the others
when you tap it gently.
These signs mean that the decay is deep
enough for the nerve to feel temperature
changes, but not near enough to the nerve to be infected. So there is not
an abscess. You can save the tooth by filling the cavity as soon as
What a Filling Can Do
A filling can help a person in three ways:
• It stops food, air, and water from entering the cavity. This will stop
much discomfort and pain.
• It stops the decay from growing deeper. This can prevent a tooth abscess.
• It can help save the tooth, so the person can use it for many more years.
TWO KINDS OF FILLINGS
A permanent filling is made to last for many years. A dental worker trained
in Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) can fill the cavity with a sticky
material called glass-ionomer. (See pages 152–155 for how to do ART.) Or
an experienced dental worker can shape the cavity with a dental drill and
fill it with a combination of materials called amalgam or composite (see
A cement filling is a temporary filling meant to last only for a few months.
It helps the person feel more comfortable until it is possible to get a
Replace a temporary filling with
a permanent filling as soon as possible.