If a filling is over-filled, it can completely throw off the bite. If the bite cannot settle correctly into place for long enough, it can cause permanent damage and pain in the jaw. However, the problems don’t end there. If the filling is too high, it can take the brunt of the biting force, putting too much pressure on the ligaments holding the tooth in place. The bruised ligaments can be painful and make it difficult to eat.
To avoid overfilling a tooth, we use a combination of checkpoints. First, we have a patient bite on blue carbon paper. If it leaves a mark on the filling without any spots on the natural teeth, most likely the filling is too high. However, that test sometimes gives false negatives, meaning no blue dots appear on the filling even though the bite is too high. Asking the patient if the bite feels off is another test. That is not a 100 percent accurate test because it is hard to judge a bite when numb. Lastly, we test the bite by the sound an even bite makes. Dentists can hear a chomping sound when a patient bites down on all their teeth evenly. We use a combination of these three tests to check for an even filling.
If there is a high spot on the filling, we simply use a finishing bur in the high-speed drill to remove the high spots. Then we repeat this step until the filling is even with the rest of the bite. During this step of the composite dental filling procedure, we also smooth off sharp edges that irritate the patient.