Imagining a gaping hole in your teeth is enough to make anyone cringe. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers the perfect solution: dental fillings.
Fillings are a type of dental restoration used to repair damaged teeth, restoring their form, function, and appearance. This article will discuss the various types of fillings, how they work, and the risks and benefits associated with them.
Readers can make informed decisions about oral health by understanding the importance of fillings and how they are used to restore and preserve tooth structure.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are restorative materials used to repair and preserve teeth affected by cavities. Cavities, or tooth decay, result from bacteria attacking and breaking down the enamel of the teeth. Cavities can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss without treatment. Dental fillings are a form of dental treatment that can stop cavities from progressing and returning.
Fillings come in many forms, including amalgam fillings, gold fillings, composite fillings, and porcelain fillings. Each filling material has its advantages and disadvantages, and a dentist must determine the best type of filling for a patient.
Tooth fillings are applied to the affected area of the tooth and then shaped and polished to match the natural teeth. After a filling is in place, it prevents bacteria from further attacking the tooth and helps restore it to its normal function. Fillings help maintain the patient’s natural teeth and can last many years with proper care and maintenance.
How Do Dental Fillings Work?
Restoring a damaged tooth to its normal function and shape involves the placement of a restorative material, otherwise known as a dental filling. Dental fillings are used to repair and preserve teeth affected by decay, trauma, or wear. They can be made of silver amalgam, composite resin, or glass ionomer.
When a dental filling is needed, a dental professional will first clean the decayed area of the tooth structure. Once it is free of decay-causing bacteria, the material of choice for the filling will be chosen based on the type of filling, the location of the cavity, and the patient’s preference. Silver amalgam fillings are the most common, while tooth-coloured composite resin fillings are becoming increasingly popular. Glass ionomer is also used, especially for areas of the teeth that are difficult to reach.
The dental filling procedure involves the preparation of the area by cleaning and removing any decay and then applying the chosen material and shaping it to the desired specifications. After hardening the material, the area is polished to a smooth finish to match the surrounding tooth structure. With proper care, dental fillings can last for years, helping to preserve and protect the teeth from further decay.
What Materials Are Used to Make Dental Fillings?
Various materials such as silver amalgam, composite resin, and glass ionomer fabricate dental fillings. During dental visits, fillings can restore and preserve teeth damaged by decay. There are three main types of fillings: silver amalgam, composite material, and glass ionomer.
Silver amalgam fillings are composed of an alloy of metals such as silver, mercury, copper, and tin and are the most common type of fillings. Composite is a tooth-coloured material composed of acrylic resin and powdered glass filler. The composite resin material is used to restore teeth damaged by decay and to fill visible cavities when smiling. Tooth-coloured fillings can also be used to reduce the pain signals caused by additional decay. In certain cases, a root canal procedure may be necessary when the dark colour of the filling material is visible.
To perform a tooth filling procedure, the dental professional will first remove the decay and clean the area. Next, the dentist will fill the cavity with the appropriate filling material and shape it to fit the tooth properly. The filling material will then be hardened and polished to ensure that the filling fits securely and naturally.
With proper care, a dental filling can last for many years and help preserve the tooth’s strength and appearance.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Fillings?
Restoring and preserving teeth that have been damaged by decay can be achieved through the use of dental fillings. A dental filling is a great option for those who have experienced tooth decay and need to fill a tooth cavity. Fillings can be temporary or permanent and can be made of a variety of materials to match the natural tooth structure. Fillings can be either direct or indirect, depending on the type of material used.
The most common type of direct filling is a composite or tooth-coloured filling. This type of filling is used to fill cavities and is the most popular option for restoring decayed teeth.
Indirect fillings such as inlays and onlays are typically used to repair larger decay areas or replace an old filling. Inlays and onlays are custom-made in a laboratory and are usually made of porcelain, gold, or composite materials. The benefit of an indirect filling is that it can be designed to fit the contours of the tooth to blend in with the natural tooth structure.
Aside from repairing and replacing decayed teeth, dental fillings can also prevent further damage to the tooth. For example, root canal therapy may be necessary if a tooth has a deep cavity that cannot be filled. A filling can fill the now-empty space, preventing bacteria from entering the tooth and causing further decay.
Overall, dental fillings provide a great option for restoring and protecting decayed teeth. Whether it is a temporary filling or a more permanent solution, such as an indirect filling, patients can find a dental filling option that meets their needs.
What Are the Risks of Dental Fillings?
Although dental fillings can effectively address tooth decay, some risks are associated with the procedure. It is possible to experience an emergency dental situation or a need for a replacement filling. Food particles can become trapped between the filling and the gum tissues, requiring additional visits to the dentist. If insurance coverage is lacking, there may be an added financial burden.
Additionally, the decayed material must be removed before the filling can be placed. When choosing a filling, some people opt for tooth-coloured material, while others may decide on gold or porcelain inlays. Although these materials are long-lasting, they come with a higher price tag.
Patients should always consult with their dentist before making a final decision about the type of filling. Ultimately, patients should weigh the pros and cons of dental fillings and their risks before proceeding.
How Long Do Dental Fillings Last?
The longevity of a dental filling can vary significantly depending on the type of material used. Generally, dental fillings can be divided into three categories:
- Simple fillings: These are usually made of silver or tooth-coloured composite material and are meant to last up to seven years. They are less durable and may require more frequent replacement than fillings made of other materials.
- Placement of gold fillings: Gold fillings have a very long lifespan of up to 15 years. They are more expensive than other fillings but are strong and resistant to wear and tear.
- Long-lasting fillings: These are made of a strong material such as porcelain or ceramic and can last for decades. They are more expensive than other types of fillings but provide higher levels of comfort and durability.
Good oral hygiene and avoiding sugary and sweet foods can help to prolong the life of a filling. In addition, avoiding cold food and drinks can help to maintain the comfort level of the filling. Regular dental care is also necessary to ensure that the filling lasts for as long as possible and that the patient’s oral health is maintained.
Dental fillings are an effective way to repair and preserve teeth, providing a range of benefits, from restoring function and strength to improving appearance. While there are risks associated with dental fillings, such as sensitivity and potential allergic reactions, these risks can be minimized through close consultation with a qualified dentist.
Ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide whether or not a dental filling is the best option for them, as with any medical procedure. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and dental fillings are a perfect example of this.
At SmileWorks Dental Ballarat, VIC, we understand the importance of preventive oral health care. That’s why we offer a range of dental filling options to address any issues you may have. Our team of experienced dentists in Ballarat ensure that your treatment is safe and effective, so you can get the smile you want and protect your teeth from further damage. Visit us today for a consultation to see if a dental filling is the best option for you.