What Are Dental Fillings?
If you have a decayed or damaged tooth, a filling is a procedure that replaces the missing tooth structure with a dental material that replaces the missing portion of the tooth. This is most commonly a treatment to repair a tooth after early-stage tooth decay has developed.
First, the decay needs to be removed with a dental drill before filling the cavity. Then, the tooth is cleaned, the filling material is applied and after curing, it hardens and is set in place. Fillings restore the structure and appearance of the tooth, protect the tooth from further damage and decay, and strengthen the tooth so that it doesn’t continue to break under chewing forces.
Fillings are important when you notice a cavity because cavities will worsen and grow deeper into the tooth. Once it reaches the dental pulp, you can get an infection. Fillings prevent worsening complications of tooth decay by preventing it from becoming worse and restoring the health of the tooth.
What to Expect:
The Dental Filling Process
First, our Fort Mill dentist will perform an oral exam to look for signs of tooth decay and will take x-rays to rule out an infection that requires more invasive treatment. After assessing the condition and location of your tooth and speaking to you about your preferences, we will help you decide on the best filling material for your tooth.
Local anesthesia will be administered to numb your mouth so you don’t feel any pain. Then, a dental drill will be used to remove any active decay. If you are opting for a tooth-colored filling, we will use a shade guide to match the resin to your natural tooth.
Your tooth will be etched by roughening up the tooth and applying an acidic gel which helps the bonding agent stick. Then, the filling material is applied and molded to the tooth. Amalgam fillings take 24 hours to fully harden but composite fillings, once exposed to UV light, harden on contact. Additional shaping may then be performed and the tooth will be polished.
What Are the Types of Dental Fillings?
Composite Fillings - A composite filling, also called a tooth-colored or white filling, is an aesthetic filling that fills a cavity or damage with composite resin materials. Composite resin is made of a mixture of plastics and because it is metal-free, it’s suitable for patients with metal allergies.
Composite resin is biocompatible because it looks and functions just like a natural tooth. These fillings are mercury-free, making them suitable for pregnant women and young children. We shade-match the resin to your natural tooth using a shade guide.
This ensures that the teeth being filled look completely natural, especially when they’re located at the front of the mouth. The composite filling lifespan is 7 to 10 years, which is not as durable as amalgam fillings.
Composite fillings are recommended for the front teeth and small cavities. However, they are more prone to wear and tear and staining which can reduce their lifespan, especially when placed in the back teeth.
Amalgam Fillings - An amalgam or silver filling is a traditional dental filling that has been used for decades. Due to their superior strength, durability, and lifespan, these fillings are still the best option to fill large cavities, decay in the back teeth, and cavities in children over the age of 6.
Amalgam has become slightly less popular over the years because of the popularity of tooth-colored fillings which are more aesthetically pleasing. Amalgam fillings are visibly silver which makes them less than ideal for placement in the front teeth.
However, they are strong enough to withstand significant chewing forces which is why they are the best option for cavities in the rear molars. These fillings are made of a mixture of metals and contain mercury, but the ADA states that mercury exposure is extremely minimal and that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe and don’t lead to negative health consequences.
However, they are not recommended for pregnant women, patients with metal allergies, and very young children.
Schedule Your Filling Consultation Today!
If you have a damaged tooth or a cavity, you should get it filled right away. Contact us at Luck Family Dental today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leah Luck.