What is a filling?
Filling repairs and restores a tooth that has been damaged by decay, fracture, or wear. If these issues are not repaired in early stages, the damage could spread and worsen, requiring more invasive dental treatments. Tooth sensitivity is the most common warning sign of enamel loss due to tooth decay. If you notice new or increased sensitivity, you should make an appointment to have your teeth checked.
How are filling treatments completed?
After a thorough exam of your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, Dr. Freeman will discuss treatment options with you and answer your questions. If the agreed-upon treatment is a dental filling, your Dr. Freeman will:
- Apply a local anesthetic to the affected area of your mouth
- Use a hand-held instrument to prepare your tooth by removing the decayed or damaged tooth surface
- Cleanse the prepared tooth to remove debris and bacteria
- Isolate the tooth using a small, protective sheet called a “dental dam” to keep it clean and free of saliva during your procedure
- Select the dental filling material based on the placement of the tooth, the location of the damaged area of the tooth, and the extent of its surface damage
- Apply adhesives and filling material to the prepared area and shape it to match the look and feel of a natural tooth
- Expose a special hand-held light to the filling material to harden the repaired surface of your tooth
What are fillings made of?
There are several options available for fillings. The factors affecting the type of filling include the extent of the damage, whether the person has allergies to certain materials, wherein the person’s mouth the filling is required, and how much the material will cost. The types of fillings include:
- Composite resins are color matched to teeth and are employed where a natural appearance is desired. Composites may not be ideal for large fillings because they can chip and wear over time. They can also become stained and usually last from 3 to 10 years.
- Porcelain fillings are referred to as inlays or onlays. They are made to order in a lab and then bonded to teeth. They can be color matched and resist staining. A porcelain filling will cover most of the tooth, and they cost about as much as gold.
- Silver Amalgam fillings resist wear and are relatively inexpensive. However, they are more noticeable and are not typically used in visible areas such as the front teeth. An amalgam filling can be an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and occasionally zinc.