Dental Fillings

What is a Filling?

A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape.

Fillings help restore teeth damaged by decay back to their normal function, and can prevent further decay. Dentist will consider a number of factors when choosing which type of filling material is best for you. For Example the extent of the repair, where in your mouth the filling is needed, the cost, etc.

Normal Procedure:

The dentist normally ;

  1. first removes the decayed tooth material,
  2. cleans the affected area, and then
  3. fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.

By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay.

If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).


The most common materials used for fillings include a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc), gold and Porcelain. Normally material is selected by the extent of the repair,  allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, the cost, etc.

  • Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.
  • Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
  • Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many authorities consider gold the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
  • Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.

What to Expect During a FILLING:

  1. Local anesthesia – at the beginning of your filling procedure, you MAY be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.
  2. Tooth decay removal – then the dentist will cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After the dentist removes the decay, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
  3. Etching – for a bonded filling your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
  4. Resin application – for certain types of fillings the dentist will layer on the resin and harden it using a bright light. This makes it strong.
  5. Polishing – after the filling has been placed, your dentist will polish the tooth.


Care After Tooth Fillings

  1. Be sure that the local anesthetic has completely worn off before chewing. This is to prevent you from biting or injuring your lip, cheeks or tongue. Also, refrain from drinking anything hot in temperature or smoking to prevent burning. Sometimes patients also find it difficult to swallow while they are still numb, so please be careful.
  2. Although the fillings are polished before you leave, they may feel slightly gritty at first. This should go away after a couple of days. If not please call back.
  3.  Immediate post-visit cold sensitivity is also possible. This is usually from a normal reaction of the nerve following the procedure. Give it a couple of days and try a sensitivity protection toothpaste until it subsides.If sensitivity persists beyond a week or seems to worsen please call us. Discontinue the use of any whitening toothpaste or other whitening products until the sensitivity subsides.
  4. Finally, if your bite seems off or if you cannot bite normally please call for an appointment to have your filling adjusted. Do not wait for it to wear down on its own as the tooth may become tender.
  5. Your new filling does not require any additional care other than daily brushing and flossing. Be sure your toothpaste contains fluoride. New fillings are susceptible to developing new decay around the edges of the filling if not cared for. If you have experienced recurrent decay or have had multiple recurring cavities you may want to use a fluoride mouthwash.


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