Tooth fillings are used to restore a tooth and help it work the way it’s supposed to, as well as go back to its original shape. They’re typically used for teeth that have been decayed by bacteria, teeth grinding, or nail biting. Before being given a filling, the dentist will first remove the part of the tooth affected by decay then fill out the clean part with filling material.
Fillings work by sealing off the affected area and preventing decay by not allowing more bacteria to enter the affected tooth. Materials typically used for this include: porcelain, composite resins (plastics, similar to that which is used for veneers because they can match the tooth’s color), gold, amalgam (an alloy made of tin, copper, silver, mercury and occasionally zinc).
Choosing the right filling
Your dentist will help you decide on the best material for your tooth fillings by taking cost, extent of damage, medical history, and allergies to materials into account. For this reason, one cannot say that any one material is better than the other.
Amalgam fillings are the most inexpensive option. Because they’re darker and easier to notice they’re typically not used for front teeth.
Porcelain fillings are also known as inlays or onlays. These are produced in a lab and bonded to the tooth. The advantage of these is that they’re quite stain-resistant and can be color-matched to the patient’s tooth.
Composite resins are a type of plastic that is matched to the patient’s tooth and used whenever the dentist wants to achieve a natural look. The ingredients are placed by the dentist onto the cavity and mixed until they harden. These are not the best choice for larger fillings because they can become worn over the years and may become stained by tobacco, tea, or coffee. These do not last as long as other tooth fillings.
Gold fillings are custom-made in a lab and secured into place with cement. They can last up to 20 years and are tolerated by gums quite well. However, the material is expensive and requires several visits.
When you need a tooth fillings
Only your dentist will know if you require a tooth filling. The dentist will use a small mirror to check teeth for any damage or decay. If any decay is found, an X-ray of a the entire mouth or a portion of it may be ordered to determine next steps. Your dentist will decide on treatment depending on the amount of decay detected.
If decay is detected, the dentist will then remove it. Depending on your condition, the dentist will use a laser, drill, or air abrasion instrument to remove any possible decay. The dentist will also test the area where the decay has been removed to see if it’s completely gone. Your dentist may also put a liner into your tooth to protect your nerve during the procedure. After this, the dentist will use the best tooth filling type for your situation and will then polish off any excess filling material that may still be left.