Dental filling is a method of restoring the shape and functionality of a tooth that has been damaged by tooth decay. It basically involves the removal of decayed tooth parts and filling the resulting cavity with other materials. Besides restoring the shape and functionality of the tooth, dental filling prevents further decay by closing off the spaces where bacteria can accumulate.
The different types of dental fillings
There are several types of dental fillings to choose from. This choice is influenced by factors such as cost, the extent of tooth damage, the location of the damaged tooth, and whether the patient has allergies to certain materials. The following are the most common types of dental fillings
Amalgams/ silver fillings
As the name suggests, silver is the filling material. These filings have a durability of between 10 and 15 years. Their advantage is that they are strong and less expensive compared to composite and gold fillings.
Silver fillings have several drawbacks. First, they are easily noticeable because they do not match the natural color of teeth. Furthermore, they discolor the surrounding teeth. Finally, amalgam filling requires removal of large healthy areas of the tooth for the amalgams to fit.
Many dentists consider gold the best filling material. These fillings have a durability of more than 20 years. Furthermore, they are strong and are well tolerated by gum tissues. Nevertheless, gold fillings are very expensive. The cost of gold fillings is almost ten times that of amalgams. The other drawback of gold fillings is that they require more than one office visits to fit. They might also be unsuitable for people who want unnoticeable fillings because they do not match the natural color of teeth.
Composite resins/plastic fillings
Composite resins a have a durability of between of five and 10 years; this significantly lower compared to amalgams and gold fillings. These filling can be tuned to match the natural color of the patient’s teeth. They are therefore suitable to use where a natural appearance is desired. Besides the small durability, composite resins have several drawbacks. First, they can be stained with materials such as tobacco and coffee. Second, they are not suitable for filling large cavities because they may chip over time.
Porcelain fillings are among the best types of dental fillings; They give both durability and natural appearance. They have a durability of at least 15 years. On top of this, porcelain fillings are more stain resistant compared to composite resins. The main drawback of porcelain fillings is cost. They cost almost as much gold.
Dental filling procedure
When you visit a dentist for a dental filling, they will first numb the gum around the damaged tooth using a local anesthetic. With the introduction of anesthesia, dental filling is no longer the painful process it used to be.
After numbing the gums, the dentist removes the decayed parts of the tooth. This can be done using a laser, an air abrasion instrument, or a drill. The choice of instrument is influenced by factors such as the location of the tooth, the extent of the decay, and the dentist’s training and comfort level.
The dentist then probes the cavity to ascertain that all decay has been removed. This is followed by a through a cleanup of the area to get rid of bacteria and debris. If the cavity is near the root of the tooth, the dentist may first lay a layer of glass ionomers to protects the nerves before placing the other fillings. The filled area is then polished to achieve the required shape and texture.
For tooth-colored fillings such as porcelain and plastic resins, the dentist applies the tooth-colored material in layers after cleaning the cavity. Once a layer is deposited, a special light that hardens the material is applied. The filling is then polished to remove excess material and achieve the desired shape.
Follow South Tulsa Dental!