Dental fillings are used to treat teeth damaged by decay and to restore their functionality. The decay is removed from the tooth, and then it is “filled” with material to take the place of the decay. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth. When a tooth is filled it helps to prevent further deterioration to the tooth.
Several different materials can be used for fillings with the most popular being composite resins (tooth-colored), and dental amalgam (silver-colored).
Amalgam fillings – are made up of silver, tin, copper, zinc, and mercury. Many studies have shown this material is a safe, time-tested filling material. Amalgam is resistant to wear, but due to the dark color, it can be more noticeable and is usually not used on the very visible teeth in the front of the mouth. Because the amalgam does not bond with the tooth like the composite material does, more of the healthy tooth structure has to be removed in order to hold the filling into place.
Composite fillings – are newer than amalgam and are improving constantly. Made from plastic resins, it has the consistency of modeling clay until it hardens. The material actually chemically bonds to the tooth structure, providing further support to the tooth. The composite material color is matched to the color of your own tooth, giving it a natural appearance and it is usually used where the tooth can be seen. Generally, they do not last as long as other types of fillings, and they can become stained from coffee, tea, or tobacco.
There are also less commonly used materials for fillings such as gold or porcelain. Our dentist will discuss with you the best material to use for your individual treatment.
The steps involved to fill a tooth
- Our dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth.
- Depending on where your filling is located, our team may use several tools to help prepare the area and make the filling procedure easier and more efficient. If you are receiving a tooth-colored filling, this is usually the time when it will be determined which shade of filling material will be used.
- Next, our dentist will remove tooth decay and the damaged tooth structure. While this is happening, another member of our team will use suction to quickly remove the water and debris from your mouth.
- Our dentist may also decide to use other tools such as a slow-speed handpiece or hand instruments. They are used to refine the area where the filling will be placed.
- After all the decay is removed and the tooth is clean, our dentist will fill the tooth and make it look natural.
- When the filling is completed, our dentist will have you bite on carbon paper to ensure the filling isn’t too high. If it is, then the filling will be lowered until it feels natural to you.
- Finally, any rough spots on the filling will be polished so that it feels smooth to your tongue.
It is normal to experience some sensitivity and pain after having a tooth filled, but this discomfort should diminish.
As always, be diligent with your oral healthcare routine. Brush twice a day and floss daily. Coming into our offices twice a year for a check-up and cleaning will help catch any problems early.
To have your teeth checked for cavities, cracks or breaks, call our Cambridge Dentistry offices on Dundas and Franklin Plaza or Westgate Plaza for a convenient appointment time.