Fillings are used to restore teeth damaged by decay back to their normal function and shape. When we give you a filling, we will first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then fill it with a filling material.
Fillings close off spaces where bacteria can enter, helping to prevent further decay.
Materials used for fillings include porcelain, gold, a composite resin (tooth-coloured fillings), and an amalgam resin (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
Which Type of Filling is Best?
There is no one type of filling that is best for everyone. What’s best for you will depend on the extent of the repair required, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost;
Gold fillings are made to order in a lab and are hen cemented into place. They are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many dentists consider gold the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations because of their dark colour. For this reason, they are usually used in less visible back teeth. In many countries the use of silver fillings is being reduced in favour of composite “white” fillings. The reasons for this are multifactorial. Ask your dentist if you have questions about the use of amalgam fillings. The World Health Organisation published this article on the topic if you would like to find out more.
Composite (plastic) resins are used when a natural appearance is preferable. They are matched to be the same colour as your teeth. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Over time, composites may chip or wear so they may not be the ideal material for large fillings. Additionally, they can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco. They do not last as long as other types of fillings (from 3-10years).
Porcelain fillings (inlays or onlays) are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. Again, they can be matched to the colour of the tooth and they are stain resistant. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.
What to Expect During a filling
- Local anaesthesia – you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth at the beginning of the procedure.
- Tooth decay removal – we will then cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After we remove the decay, we will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
- Etching – for a bonded filling, we will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing your filling.
- Resin application – for certain types of fillings we will layer on the resin and harden it using a bright light to make it strong.
- Polishing – after the filling has been placed, we will polish the tooth to take away any residue.
Do you need a filling/fillings? Let us be the judge of that. Contact us today and book in for a full dental check-up with our general dentist.
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