When your teeth get damaged, often a dentist will opt for a filling to repair the tooth to its undamaged function and shape. A filling will close off the spaces where bacteria can enter the tooth to help prevent further decay. The type of filling used will be determined by the extent of the repair, any allergies to certain materials, where in the mouth a filling is needed and costs.

Filling Types

Gold Fillings are made to order in a laboratory before being cemented into place. Many authorities consider gold the optimal material for fillings, due to the fact that they are very well tolerated by gums and may last for more than 20 years. However, it is not for everyone due to the high cost and requirement for multiple visits.

Amalgam (Silver) fillings are water resistant and relatively inexpensive. Due to their dark color they are far more noticeable that composite or porcelain fillings, and so are not often used in highly visible areas such as front teeth.

Composite (Plastic) resins are matched to the color of a patient’s teeth and are used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity where they harden. However, composite may not be the best choice for larger fillings since they may chip or wear over time. They also can become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and are generally not very long lasting, generally lasting three to 10 years.

Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are also produced to order in laboratories and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth like composite fillings, but are resistant to staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth, though not as much as a crown would, and their cost is similar to gold fillings.

What happens when you get a filling?

When your dentist decides you need a cavity filled, they will first apply local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth to prevent any discomfort that comes with the procedure. Then they will use a drill to cut through the enamel of the tooth to remove ant decay and shape the space for the filling. At this point they will also etch the tooth with an acid gel if a bonded filling is being used. If a resin filling is being used, the dentist will layer the resin and use a bright light to harden the filling. Once the cavity has been filled, your dentist will polish the tooth and the filling, to avoid any mouth discomfort in the future.

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