What are fillings and when are they required?
Fillings are most often used to replace the part of the tooth that was lost to tooth decay. They also can stop tooth pain, prevent the loss of the tooth, or cover a crack in a tooth to prevent further splitting or the development of decay in the crack. Filling material is sometimes used to cover a tooth to improve its appearance — for cosmetic purposes.
What material(s) are used for fillings?
The most common filling material used today is composite resin. Composite resin is sometimes called a “tooth colored” filling. This filling material is preferred by many because it looks like your natural tooth. It’s also very durable, and lasts five to 15 years as long as it’s properly maintained.
These fillings are the fastest to put in, they last longer than composite fillings, and they’re less expensive. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury, tin, silver and other materials and therefore has a metallic appearance in the mouth. For this reason, many patients opt for composite resin at ImmediaDent despite the slightly higher cost. Amalgam fillings can last 10-20 years with good oral hygiene.
Ionomers are tooth-colored fillings made from glass particles mixed with acrylic acids. They are very natural looking, but as they are fragile they are only used for very small cavities or isolated cavities between teeth. Glass ionomers typically last about five years with good oral hygiene.
Gold fillings are the most durable, lasting more than 15-25 years in many cases. However, they can be 10-15 times more expensive than amalgam fillings due to the price of gold, are more difficult for the dentist to place, and require at least two visits. In addition, gold conducts cold and heat and may cause pain or irritation for some people.
What is involved in getting a filling?
Your dentist and dental assistant will begin the process by using numbing jelly and then an injected local anesthetic in the area to be treated. The goal is to numb any teeth, gums, tongue and surrounding skin that may be affected by the procedure. Nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) is sometimes used to relax the patient for the procedure.
The dentist then removes all the decay present in the tooth and either the dentist or his trained and licensed assistant will fill the resulting hole (cavity) with a material that restores the tooth shape and protects it from further decay.
Your mouth may feel numb for a few hours after getting a filling.
How long can I wait before getting a filling?
It’s very important to deal with tooth decay as soon as it is identified. Putting it off will lead to more decay, which can lead to pain, root canals, crowns and possible loss of the tooth. And keep in mind that it costs more to place larger fillings that are needed to restore more tooth surfaces that have decayed over time.