When patients are told they have a cavity (decayed tooth), the dentist may say the affected tooth needs a filling. The two most common known filling materials are composite (white filling) and amalgam (silver filling).
We use the most advanced method of filling cavities, with composite resin filling material rather than the metal or amalgam filling of days gone by. A composite tooth filling is used to repair teeth that are damaged by decay, cracks, chips, or to fill in unwanted spaces between teeth. The decayed part of the tooth is removed and the space is filled with a strong, natural-looking composite resin. Fillings help to remove tooth decay and restore dental health for our patients.
Composite resins also make fillings less noticeable. The shade of the filling matches your natural tooth color, thanks to a mix of resin and fine-ground ceramic that can be mixed to an exact shade. The composite filling supports the remaining structure of the tooth to prevent breakage and further decay. The material lasts as long as amalgam fillings with normal care and maintenance, but enables the patient to retain more of the tooth and enjoy a natural-looking smile. Composite fillings are very durable and resistant to cracking or breaking. However, not all decay or cavities can be treated with simple fillings; your dentist may recommend alternate treatments like crowns or root canals for more serious dental issues. We are always happy to talk through possible treatments and options with our patients.
What to expect with composite fillings
Composite fillings are completed in one visit. The first step is to numb the tooth and clean out the decayed area. Your dentist will remove as little of the tooth structure as possible to minimize the size of the filling, while completely removing the decay. The area is then cleaned, bonded, and filled with the composite resin, restoring the shape of the natural tooth. The resin is then smoothed to remove any sharp edges or rough surfaces. When the decay extends near the root, or nerve of the tooth, a medication is placed under the composite filling by our dentists to reduce the risk of infection.
When fillings are placed, you may be sensitive to heat and cold at first, but this typically subsides once you get used to the new filling. It’s also important to keep up good brushing and flossing habits after having a dental filling, to reduce wear and any staining that may happen. While composite fillings have many benefits, they also are vulnerable to staining and cavities just like your natural teeth, so good dental hygiene is needed. For more information about fillings and our other services, please contact us for an appointment .
When Do You Need Fillings
Although experiencing a toothache may be an indication that you have a cavity, it’s important to remember that cavities don’t always cause pain. Feeling tooth sensitivity may also be a sign that you need a filling, as well as seeing a dark spot on your tooth. While regular brushing and flossing can help prevent the onset of the decay that causes cavities, the only way to know for sure whether or not you need any fillings is through regular visits to the dentist with x-ray evaluation of the teeth.
Through the use of x-rays and professional medical instruments, our team will get a clear picture of the overall health and integrity of your teeth and advise you on whether fillings are necessary.
Pros and Cons of Different Types of Fillings
- All fillings serve to seal and protect the teeth from further decay and infection, but there are different types of filling materials to choose from:
- A silver amalgam filling is relatively inexpensive and they are resistant to wear. A silver filling can last for decades with proper dental hygiene, but this type of filling is more noticeable and can cause tooth discoloration due to the materials used. Because of concerns about mercury, our office chooses not to offer this type of filling
- A composite filling is a popular choice because they can be customized to match the natural color of your teeth. Although composite fillings are less noticeable than other filling types, they can be more prone to staining and may not last as long as other types of fillings.
- A porcelain filling, also called inlays or onlays, are also types of fillings that can be blended into your natural tooth color. Porcelain fillings are durable but the level of services necessary to customize these fillings can make them more expensive.
- A gold filling is the most expensive type of filling but are also on the higher end of durability, lasting for decades with good dental hygiene. Gold fillings may also require multiple dental visits.
If you’re experiencing tooth pain, contact our office.
During your visit with our team, we’ll discuss all of your treatment options with you and help you decide which option is best for your smile. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.