Dental Filling Basics
Are you nervous about your first filling? Do you want to learn the basics about dental fillings before you go to the dentist? Read this article to discover the basic facts about dental fillings.
A dental filling is just one way that a dentist uses to restore a damaged tooth. The tooth is usually damaged by decay. The filling can put the tooth back to its normal function and shape.
In order to give you a dental filling, the dentist first has to remove the decay on your tooth, clean the affected area, and then fill it with a “filling material”. This filling material closes off the spaces so that bacteria cannot enter into the tooth and cause further damage. Fillings are made of different material including composite resin, porcelain, and gold, an amalgam is an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, and tin and sometimes zinc. The filling material will be chosen based on the repair that is needed, any allergies to materials the patient may have and where in the mouth the tooth is located, as well as the cost of the material.
Gold fillings are the most expensive choice of material. They can last for more than 20 years. They require multiple visits to place into the tooth. Gold fillings are well tolerated by gum tissues.
Porcelain fillings match the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration usually covers most of the tooth and is almost as expensive as a gold filling.
Amalgam (Silver) fillings are very wear resistant and relatively inexpensive. They are very noticeable due to the dark color and are generally not used in front teeth because of the visibility.
Composite resin fillings can also match the color of your teeth and therefore look natural much like the porcelain filling. They are used for large fillings. The composite filling can become stained by coffee, tea or tobacco usage. These fillings can chip and wear over time. The composite resin filling typically lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 years.
If a fracture or decay has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a cap or a crown is generally recommended instead of a filling. If the decay has reached the nerve, root canal therapy is usually recommended.
How will I know if I need a filling?
Only your dentist can detect a cavity that needs to be filled. Your dentist will examine your teeth as part of your regular dental exam and cleaning. The dentist will use instruments to examine your teeth visually or x-rays may be used to discover cavities that are not visible on exam. Your dentist will discuss the cavity with you and make a recommendation about how to restore the tooth based on the severity of the damage to the tooth and the position of the damaged tooth in your mouth.
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