Everything You Need to Know About Dental Fillings
Having a dental cavity should not automatically equate to losing your natural teeth. Even though dental decay is the leading cause of tooth loss globally, it does not have to be your story. Once you spot a cavity on your tooth, seek treatment near you.
Procedures like oral fillings have been used over the years to help restore the health of damaged teeth, disallowing the need for premature dental extractions.
What Are Dental Fillings?
They are materials used in dentistry to repair and restore damaged teeth. Over the years, fillings were popular for treating dental decay. However, patients have soon understood that tooth fillings are just as effective in treating other dental issues like broken or chipped teeth, sensitive teeth, or even replacing an old tooth filling.
One of the benefits of modern dentistry is the versatility it offers. When it comes to tooth fillings, you do not have to rely on the same material of filling that is used by everyone else. There are different materials to account for the different needs and preferences of patients.
Types of Tooth Fillings
In dentistry, there are multiple types of fillings used to repair damaged teeth, including:
- Gold fillings – they are fillings that feature gold as the primary material. They are costly and are preferable for their luxurious aesthetics as well as their sturdiness for repairing damaged teeth.
- Amalgam fillings – they are the most common types of fillings, also known as silver fillings. They feature silver as the primary component. However, they are made of a metal alloy, which includes other metals like mercury, copper, and zinc. They are affordable for most patients, offering a sturdy material for repairing teeth. However, they are not aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
- Composite fillings – they are cosmetically-pleasing tooth fillings that feature composite resin. The material is tooth-colored, which allows it to be matched to the color of your natural teeth. However, the material makes these fillings quite costly. Besides, they are not as sturdy as it’s counterparts.
- Ceramic fillings – they feature porcelain material, which rivals composite resins. They are far much stronger than composite fillings and are also aesthetically pleasing to the eyes since they are tooth-colored. However, these fillings are also very pricy, closely matching the cost of gold fillings.
- Glass ionomer – they are fillings featuring acrylic and a type of glass. They are transparent and are common for a restorative procedure in pediatric dentistry. They are unique from other types because they are made to release fluoride on teeth. This further helps fight against bacteria that cause cavities.
Procedure for Getting Oral Fillings
Regardless of the type of fillings you get, the procedure for getting them will entail the following steps:
- Numbing and sedation – local anesthesia and other sedatives are used to prepare you for the procedure. The area around the affected tooth is numbed to ensure that the treatment is painless. Sedatives are used to relax and calm you, particularly if you suffer from dental anxiety.
- Removing the damaged part of the tooth – since not all your tooth is healthy, some of it has to be removed. A drill or laser is used to achieve this.
- Cleaning – once all the damage has been removed, the dentist will use a gel to clean the tooth.
- Application of filling – the filling material is applied to the tooth to fill the space created. When the tooth is properly filled, adhesives will be used to protect and seal the tooth.
- Finishing – once the material has properly hardened, the dentist polishes your tooth and removes any spillage and rough edges.
When to Replace a Cavity Filling
As is the case with many oral procedures, fillings are not built to last forever. However, they will serve you for several years before you ever think of replacing them. Depending on the type of filling you got, you may need to check with your dentist for repairs after 5 or 10 years. However, this is only necessary if you notice issues like:
- A crack on the filling
- Tooth sensitivity on the filled tooth
- Missing filling – whether partially or fully
An allergic reaction to the filling – this may be noticed with metal fillings, usually a few days or weeks after getting the fillings.