What Are Dental Fillings?
What Are Dental Fillings?
As the name suggests, dental fillings use materials such as metal, plastic, and porcelain to fill in a cavity, or hole, in a tooth. Fillings stop the spread of tooth decay and allow you to use the tooth normally.
Types of Fillings
There are several types of materials we can use for dental fillings, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist can help you choose the best filling materials based on your health history, needs, and budget. All the materials used for fillings are safe and non-toxic.
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam, are made of a combination of metals. They’re one of the more durable and affordable types of fillings and last at least 10 to 15 years. However, some people don’t like the fact that they do not look like natural teeth. They may also cause discoloration of the surrounding tooth.
Tooth-colored composite fillings are becoming one of the most popular options as the quality of composite materials continues to improve. Made of resin, glass, and quartz, they can closely match the color of natural teeth. They last at least five years and may require multiple visits to place.
Gold fillings are durable, lasting at least 10 to 15 years, but are more expensive than other materials and may require more visits to place. Some patients like the striking appearance of gold fillings, while others consider it a disadvantage.
Ceramic and porcelain fillings match your natural tooth color and last at least 15 years. They are more resistant to staining than composite fillings but are also one of the more expensive options.
What Is the Process of Getting a Filling?
When you get a filling, your dentist will first use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. Next, they’ll remove the decayed area and clean the cavity to remove bacteria. The filling placement process varies depending on the material used, but generally, your dentist will apply the filling material in layers, then trim and polish it to the correct shape.
Some people notice that their teeth are more sensitive to pressure, temperature, sweet foods, or air in the weeks after they get a filling. This is usually normal and lasts only a few weeks. However, you should call your dentist if the sensitivity lasts longer than four weeks or if you have severe pain.
Caring for Dental Fillings
The lifespan of dental fillings depends on the material used, but proper care can help your fillings last as long as possible. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day using a toothpaste with fluoride and floss at least once a day, in addition to visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.
Contact your dentist if your filling becomes painful or you notice a crack, sharp edge, or missing piece. These problems can indicate that your filling may need to be repaired or replaced. A broken filling can lead to additional tooth decay.