In order to treat a cavity, your dentist will normally recommend you get dental fillings. This is a complex procedure done by a dentist. The process involves the removal of decayed areas of your tooth and then filling it to restore the integrity of your tooth. Aside from treating cavities, fillings are also done to repair broken or cracked teeth.
Dental fillings replace parts of your tooth that have been damaged as a result of decay or injury. Another term used synonymously with dental fillings is dental restoration. A filling upholds your tooth’s integrity and prevents if from further damage caused by cavities. Fillings also function to restore the surfaces of your tooth that have been corroded and worn due to injury. It is ideal to avoid any further damage brought by cavities and injuries, this is the reason why fillings were invented, to prevent any more damage that could possibly lead to tooth loss. Fractures and cavities that are detected early through regular oral exams are ideal candidates for dental fillings.
Potential Candiates For Dental Fillings
Patients who have chipped, damaged or cracked teeth all need dental fillings. Cavities that have grown in size are noticeable and often cause pain and discomfort. However, even small cavities that haven’t spread yet need careful attention especially when they are situated in hard-to-reach areas in between teeth. The very reason why you need to see your dentist regularly specifically once in every six months through dental checkups is because these professionals are able to visualize and detect pinhole cavities that you can’t see using a mirror. Through dental probes, dyes and X-rays, your dentist can see and identify areas that require dental restoration.
Regular visits to your dentist allow them to address oral health problems before they get worse and progress into irreversible ones. Even though cavities are often the main reason why dentists perform fillings, these aren’t the only grounds for a patient to undergo reconstructive work. Patients, who habitually grind their teeth, bite their nails or use their teeth as tools instead of using instruments can experience teeth erosion, which can damage the outermost surfaces of their teeth requiring filling. Filling is needed for eroded teeth to restore a healthy and normal bite. Other signs that require you to get dental filling are the following:
- Darks spots on the teeth
- Visible holes
- Visible cracks
- Visible chips
- Teeth that are sensitive to cold and heat
- A sharp and lingering pain on the affected tooth when biting unto something
- Persistent dull pain
What are the materials needed to perform a dental filling?
Back in the days fillings were exclusively made of precious metals so they can endure years of use. Aside from amalgam, silver and gold which are still widely being used today, other elements found in dental fillings include porcelain, glass ionomer cement and tooth-colored resin composites. Your dentist usually recommends a filling type based on the extent of restoration required; factors such as location of the filling, budget and personal predilections are also taken into account.
Out of all the fillings, silver amalgam and gold are shown to be the best when it comes to longevity as it can last for ten years and even more if given proper maintenance. Even though gold is more expensive compared to other metal fillings, it provides amazingly long wear that it can even last a lifetime if properly cared for. Silver amalgam, on the other hand, is less expensive compared to gold. This type of filling contains a mixture of mercury, silver, copper and tin. This type of metal filling is usually recommended for patients with small and contained cavities.
Composite resin fillings are somehow similar to specialized epoxy. It also contains elements of silica or ceramics. This type of dental filling can be blended in order to camouflage with the color of surrounding teeth. This makes restoration inconspicuous and less obvious compared to its other metal filling counterparts. One of the good things about composite resin fillings is the fact that it spares more of your original tooth compared to other fillings. Nevertheless, it is important to note that resin fillings do not have the same longevity as with gold and silver and it needs to be replaced in less then ten years.
Another type of dental filling is called porcelain fillings . This type of dental filling is made purely from ceramic material or material bonded to metal. Out of all the dental fillings available, this is by far the most natural looking, as it resembles real teeth. Because porcelain fillings have a longer wear it is relatively expensive compared to composite fillings. Porcelain fillings, also known as inlays, are an excellent option for patients who suffer form worn teeth.
The Dental Filling Process
Now that we’ve tackled the basics of dental filling it’s time to educate you on what to expect during your dental appointment for a filling. The process begins with your dentist applying a local anesthesia to the area involved to make it numb so you can’t feel a thing during the entire procedure. As soon as the anesthesia kicks in, your dentist will fit your tooth with a dental dam to confine it and separate it from the rest that doesn’t need filling. In order to fill a cavity or to rebuild a cracked tooth, your dentist must remove the damaged tissues of your teeth first. Dentists use high-speed power dental trill to file damaged areas of your tooth and to prepare it for filling. Pressure is felt during the drilling process but you won’t be able to feel any pain because of the anesthesia.
Normally your dentist will polish the prepared area of the tooth with a special fluoride solution to thwart any possible decay in the future or your dentist may simply put a liner over the designated area. For dentists using composite resin fillings, the need to coat the tooth with adhesive is essential in order to allow the surface of the tooth to attach and blend with the compound. Each dentist has his/her own unique way of applying a dental filling to a patient’s tooth. Some pour resin directly into the hollow space while others use a special tool to transfer the filling to the tooth. Once the filling has been placed your dentist will mold and shape the filling to make it look like it is part of your tooth and often times they apply ultraviolet light when using composite resin.
The porcelain type of filling follows a different technique in application. How it is done is similar to how bridges are mounted. The filling is first cast and then shaped during the first appointment and then subsequently cemented to place during the next appointment. Often dentists make use of computer-aided design to clearly visualize and make the inlay.