A dental filling is a restorative dental procedure that can fix teeth that are damaged or decayed. There are different dental filling materials available, and your dentist will help you decide which is best for you. They take into consideration the size of the area being restored, where it is in the mouth, and how it will look aesthetically when it comes to choosing dental fillings.
The most common dental filling material used now is white composite resin, a type of plastic, which can be coloured to perfectly match your teeth. Amalgam (silver) fillings were standard in the past but are rarely used now. While being more aesthetically pleasing, white fillings also bond directly to the tooth, so less tooth structure needs to be removed than with amalgam fillings. Some other less common options include gold or porcelain fillings, which are made in a lab and require more than one visit to be completed.
Decay– The decayed part of the tooth will need to be removed and a filling material placed. This prevents the cavity from spreading and will return the tooth to its original shape and allow you to continue to eat, speak and smile normally.
Broken Teeth– Sometimes teeth chip or break, whether from an injury, during eating or from a bad habit (e.g., opening a bottle with your teeth). If the broken tooth isn’t painful, it might be tempting to leave it, but it is always advised to have a dentist check it. If the chip is large enough to expose the dentin, the softer inner layer of the tooth, you may start to get decay in the area. The broken tooth could be sharp and irritating to your tongue and may be difficult to clean properly. A dental filling can restore the tooth to its natural shape and function and prevent future issues from occurring.
Abfractions– Excessive biting forces can cause notching to occur at the gumlines of teeth. These notches are called abfractions and can weaken teeth and cause sensitivity. A dental filling can be placed in the notched area to repair the tooth, improve strength and treat the sensitivity.
Aesthetics– Dental fillings can be used to improve the look of the front teeth. There are some conditions where teeth do not develop normally and may be discolored or smaller than usual. Dental fillings may be just one of the possible options to treat this.
Dental exam– A thorough exam is performed to determine if a dental filling is required.
Radiographs– During a dental exam, the dentist might request x-rays (radiographs). X-rays help the dentist see areas that cannot be seen by looking in the mouth. A common area that cavities form is between the teeth. Without x-rays, the dentist cannot see a cavity in this area until it is substantial. Small cavities usually do not cause pain, and you might not experience any discomfort until the cavity is large.
Local anesthetic– The dentist will numb the area before placing a filling.
Removing decay– When restoring a tooth with a cavity, the dentist removes the decay first. If there is no decay, the dentist still needs to prepare the tooth into the right shape to hold the filling.
Placing the filling– The dentist places the filling material in the prepared tooth. The material is placed in layers and cured (hardened) with a UV light. The dentist shapes the filling and makes adjustments to make sure that it is just right. The filling needs to be the right height to be able to chew properly without pain. Polishing the filling to make it smooth is the last step.
After getting a dental filling, you may feel numb in the area for an hour or two. During this time, be careful when eating as to not bite your cheek or tongue. Take care with hot foods or drinks to prevent burning your mouth. If the filling is uncomfortable to bite on or doesn’t feel right, it is important to call the dentist in the event minor adjustments are needed.
If you suspect you might need dental filling, seek dental care without delay. Dental problems become more serious over time when left untreated. Call us now: (289) 512-2310