Dental fillings are a form of dental restoration designed to restore tooth damage while preventing future decay from developing. During the procedure, the dentist extracts the decayed materials from the tooth, performs a diligent cleaning around the area, and administers the filling.

Why Would I Need A Filling?

The need for a filling arises when dentists detect tooth decay. When tooth decay is left untreated, the area can become infected and potentially lead to the destruction of the inside of the tooth. The four most common reasons for a filling are cavities, tooth discoloration, weakening tooth structure, and fractures. While patients may be able to recognize that they have a decaying tooth, only a dentist can detect the need for a filling.

What Should I Expect During The Procedure?

To numb the area surrounding the tooth, general anesthesia is typically administered. This makes for a pleasant procedure as it reduces the risk of discomfort during the filling process. Using a drill to break through the enamel, the dentist will remove the decay and prepare the space for the filling. For patients with sensitive teeth, the dentist may use a less harsh instrument i.e. laser or air abrasion tool. When the filling has been placed, the dentist will polish the tooth before concluding the procedure.

Types Of Fillings

The extent of repair needed will help determine which filling needs to be used. Allergies, location of decay in mouth, and cost all play a role in deciding which filling to use.

Gold fillings are among the most expensive, but they do serve as long-term solutions. While gold fillings can last up to 20 years, the process is tedious and can require multiple trips to the dentist.

Composite resins are plastic, and can color match your teeth. In high visibility areas, composite resins would be the desired filling. After mixing the ingredients, the filling is placed in the cavity where it hardens and protects the tooth. Composite resins can last anywhere from three to 10 years.

Porcelain fillings, otherwise known as inlays or onlays, bond to the tooth. Much like the composite resins, porcelain fillings are designed to match the color of the tooth. Unlike composite resins, porcelain fillings aren’t susceptible to staining.

Amalgam fillings, while inexpensive, don’t have a subtle appearance. Their dark color makes them more noticeable, so they aren’t generally used for front teeth.