Fillings are implants used to restore teeth damaged by decay. Fillings can also be used to repair teeth that have suffered trauma such as chips, fractures and erosion as a result of grinding.

Dental fillings are used to treat different dental problems like cavities and broken teeth. Teeth are usually filled with a material called composite resin, which is designed to look like your natural teeth. Fillings can also be done with gold, porcelain, or silver amalgam.

Composite resin takes a little longer, though most people still prefer it for natural-looking teeth. It takes more than one layer, and a special light is used to harden the area around the filling.

Before you get a filling, you will get a local anesthetic to numb the gums around your tooth. We will then clean away the bad and decayed part of your tooth so your tooth is ready to be filled. Some dentists will apply glass ionomer to your tooth to protect your tooth and nerve. Once your tooth is all filled in, we will smooth over the rough edges and polish it so it looks natural.

Depending on the damage, the amount of time to fill each tooth varies. The cost may also go up, the longer that it takes.

What materials are used to construct fillings? What are the pro’s and con’s of each material?

There are a number of materials available to patients undergoing a filling procedure. However, not all fillings are created equal and offer different pros and cons that should be considered in the selection process. Below is a list of some of the more popular materials on the market, including:

  • Gold– Gold fillings are highly durable and can last at least 10-15 years. They are also extremely expensive and require several trips to the dentist to install.
  • Silver (amalgam)- Similar to gold, silver fillings are able to withstand wear and tear and can last for more than a decade. They are also relatively inexpensive and cost nearly 10 times less than gold fillings. The downside of silver fillings is that they’re aesthetically less pleasing than other materials and are traditionally relegated to the back of the mouth.
  • Composite (plastic) resins- Composite resins are matched to your existing teeth and provide the most natural appearance of all filling options. They are also highly effective at bonding against tooth surfaces and can be used to treat a variety of tooth maladies. However, composite resins are more prone to chipping or cracking over time and typically last less than a decade. They are also relatively expensive, costing twice as much as silver amalgam fillings.
  • Porcelain– Also called inlays or onlays, porcelain fillings blend in effectively with teeth and are more stain resistant than most other materials. Porcelain fillings are also rather expensive and command top dollar similar to gold.
  • Glass ionomer– Glass ionomer fillings are composed of acrylic and glass and release fluoride, providing teeth with an extra layer of protection. However, they also lack strength and generally need to be replaced within 5 years.

What happens during the procedure?

To begin, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Next, they’ll remove the decay and clean the cavity to provide a sanitary environment for the filling. Once this process is complete, the filling will be inserted. The entire process typically takes a few minutes to complete. 

What happens after the procedure?

After the application of your filling, you may experience numbness for the next several hours. Some individuals also report tooth sensitivity after receiving a filling, though this should dissipate in the next few days. If the tooth remains sensitive after a week, schedule an appointment with your dentist to check the state of your filling and confirm that it’s not interfering with your bite. 

How do I care for a filling?

It’s important to practice good oral hygiene to maintain the structural integrity of your filling. Be sure to brush and floss twice a day and use antibacterial mouthwash at least once. If you experience any sensitivity or notice a flaw in your filling, such as a crack or missing piece, contact your dentist as soon as possible. When filling’s don’t fit snugly against teeth, food particles can become trapped, increasing the likelihood of tooth decay.