A dental filling is a type of dental restoration that helps restore the decayed portion of a tooth resulting from a cavity. As the name suggests, a filling consists of permanently placing a material like silver or resin into that decayed portion, “filling” the tooth and preventing further damage. Fillings are also used to repair broken or cracked teeth or reinforce teeth that have been worn down from nail-biting, clenching, or teeth grinding.
Fillings are generally composed of one of four primary materials: silver (or amalgam), gold, composite resin, or ceramic (porcelain).
Silver fillings are typically less expensive and longer-lasting than composite fillings, lasting at least 10 to 15 years. They are ideal for cavities in the back of the mouth because they are strong enough to withstand chewing and biting.
Orthodontic treatment times vary by individual and depend on several factors, including the current position of the teeth and gums, the extent of the treatment needed, the age of the patient, patient oral hygiene, and adherence to your orthodontist’s guidance.
Your treatment will be monitored closely and regularly by your orthodontist at routine treatment visits. These appointments are important because they allow your doctor to evaluate progress, adjust your appliances, and determine the next steps toward achieving your smile goals.
Invisalign and braces are comparable in treatment time, with average treatment lengths anywhere between 12 to 18 months. However, your individual treatment may take less time, or up to 24 months or longer. Your orthodontist will discuss your projected treatment time with you during your first visit and keep you updated at your subsequent appointments.
To find out more about treatment times and options, schedule a consultation with our on-site orthodontist at any of our DFW area locations.
Composite—or resin—fillings can be made to match the surrounding teeth. Important to note is that composite fillings are generally not fully covered by many insurance plans. Most plans will pay up to the cost of a silver filling, and the difference is up to the patient.
Ceramic fillings are also tooth-colored but are considerably more expensive than composite resin.
If the affected tooth does not have enough tooth structure remaining to support a filling but does not require a crown, your dentist may recommend an indirect filling. Indirect fillings require two visits to place and are similar to tooth-colored (composite) fillings.
As with any cavity, the decay or an existing filling is removed during the first visit, but then the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and its surrounding teeth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory where a filling is made. At the second visit, the dentist permanently cements the new filling into place
Fillings can be done right in your dentist’s office and take about an hour to complete. The dentist will first discuss the procedure with you and examine your mouth before starting. You may also have x-rays taken. The dentist will then numb your teeth, gums, and the surrounding skin in the cheek to minimize any discomfort. The numbing agent typically takes several minutes to begin working. During this waiting time, the dentist may step away to examine other patients.
Once everything is numb, the dentist will return to remove the area of decay in the tooth. He or she will then inspect the area to make sure all of the decay has been removed, then clear the exposed space of any other bacteria or debris.
The filling will then be placed and cemented or cured to the tooth, depending on what type you are receiving. The dentist will also finish and polish the filling to make sure it is smooth and does not interfere with your bite.
A good oral hygiene routine is the best way to care for your filling: brush and floss daily and visit your dentist regularly, at least every six months. During your exams, your dentist will also check your alignment for any problems, such as teeth grinding or clenching; these habits put extra pressure on your teeth and can cause both teeth and fillings to crack or break.
There is a risk of the filling not fitting tightly enough against the tooth, coming loose, or breaking. If you feel a sharp edge on one of your teeth, notice a crack in or missing piece from the filling, or your tooth is very sensitive, contact your dentist. An X-ray may be necessary to determine if the filling is “leaking,” or allowing saliva or debris in between the tooth and filling, increasing the chance of developing a cavity there.
While fillings can last over a decade, they do eventually need to be replaced, especially if they have cracks or worn areas. Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause more damage to the tooth underneath and may become a bigger problem than just a simple replacement. Your dentist will check your fillings at your regular exams and let you know when a filling needs to be replaced.
The price of a filling depends on the material used. Single silver amalgam fillings (the most common and widely covered by insurance) cost anywhere between $50 to $150. Costs can range from $90 to $250 for composite (tooth-colored) fillings and from $250 to $4,500 for gold or porcelain.
Most dental insurance plans cover nearly all the expenses associated with fillings. Some plans may require a deductible or copay, or plan limitations may require additional out-of-pocket costs for fillings other than silver amalgam. If you are unsure, be sure to ask your dentist and/or your insurance company.
Dental Depot DFW offers comprehensive dental care to patients of all ages. Our friendly and experienced staff of professionals is committed to making sure you receive the care you deserve to protect your teeth for life. Schedule your first appointment today. With locations in Dallas, Lewisville, Aubrey, The Colony, Arlington, McKinney, and Highland Village, you can choose the one closest to you, and our flexible scheduling and Saturday appointments make getting the dental care you need easy.