In Australia alone, most adults have already had dental fillings or will require one in the future. With millions of people suffering from various dental problems that require filling, you aren’t alone. It’s recommended to learn all about tooth fillings and when you need one, as well as what your options are before the procedure.
But what exactly are tooth fillings and what do you need to know about it? Read on as I show you the basics of tooth fillings, as well as what you can consider for healthier teeth.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Tooth (or dental) fillings are one of the most common procedures done in the dental industry.
When treating cavities, your dentist will remove the tooth’s decayed portion, filling that area that was removed. This is called tooth fillings, which can also repair broken or cracked teeth, as well as teeth worn down from misuse (like grinning teeth or nail-biting). They can also be done before doing a whole smile makeover, making your teeth look and feel stronger.
Dental fillings are necessary if you suffer from cavities or root canals. This is because bacteria have worn away protective minerals from your teeth, which can cause even bigger damage if not treated properly.
How Are Dental Fillings Done?
There are several steps to a dental filling procedure and fortunately, it is NOT risky and usually takes less than a few hours.
- The dentist uses a local anesthetic, numbing the area around your tooth that needs filling.
- He will then use a laser, air abrasion instrument, or a drill to remove the tooth’s decayed area. The instrument used to remove the decay depends on the dentist’s training, comfort, the extent and location of the decay, as well as the investment made.
- The dentist will test the area, ensuring that all decay was removed. Once completely removed, he will prepare the area for filling, cleaning all cavities of debris and bacteria. If ever the decay is near your roots, the dentist will put a liner made of either complete resin or glass ionomer, protecting the nerves.
- The white fillings will then be applied in layers. For each layer applied, there will be a special light which cures and hardens it.
- Once the entire multilayering process is done, your dentist will shape the filling to their desired result. They may trim off some of the excess materials, then polish the teeth restoration. And it’s done!
What Filling Types Are Available?
There are various dental filling materials you can choose from. You can have your dentist recommend one for you, or do your research to choose one as well. Take note that each material has its own pros and cons, there is not ONE ideal filling for everyone!
That said, here are the five different fillings you should learn about:
- Complete Resin
This material is made of resin and plastic, a popular choice as it matches the color of your teeth. But, they are less durable, lasting for three to ten years. Furthermore, they have tendencies to chip and stain easily.
- Silver Amalgam
This is a material used for over 150 years, a common type of material for its strength, durability, and affordability. But, they aren’t as visually appealing as they don’t blend into natural teeth colors.
- Cast Gold
Gold is a very popular filling, which has been around for over 1,000 years for how well bodies respond to it. Gold fillings can last for over 20 years and are non-corrosives. However, they are expensive and require multiple visits to finish the procedure.
This is a durable material with its colors blending in, making it a visually appealing choice for patients. Ceramics are also stain-resistant, made of porcelain. But take note that they are costlier than gold filling and are less durable compared to the metal!
- Glass Ionomers
This filling is used mostly on children with growing and changing teeth. It’s made from a combination of glass and acrylic, which lasts for less than five years. These fillings release fluoride, which is ideal for children who need it!
Caring For Teeth With Fillings
After getting your teeth filled, you still need to make sure that you care for them properly. Here are some helpful tips to follow to keep your teeth strong and healthy:
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning. It’s essential to have follow-up appointments to monitor your newly-filled teeth in case of any leaks or cracks
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss regularly and use antibacterial mouthwash once a day
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth, as well as other bad habits such as nail-biting.
- Keep up a healthy diet that helps with your bones, increasing your calcium intake
Any Problems, take Note Off
Unfortunately, there are some minor issues when having your teeth filled, such as:
- You might experience some tooth sensitivity, which is common. Expect your teeth to be sensitive to sweet foods, temperature, air, and pressure. However, these last for only a few weeks, so just avoid anything which causes sensitivity, and there’s no need to take painkillers.
- Allergic reactions to the teeth fillings (particularly silver) are very rare, with only fewer than 100 cases reported. If you experience allergy symptoms, you can go back to have another material to use.
- If you continue to perform bad dental habits after the fillings such as grinding, clenching, or chewing hard, then expect your fillings to deteriorate. Avoid putting too much pressure on your teeth, as this can cause tooth decay or abscessed tooth, which requires more costly procedures. Continue to visit your dentist for him to see if your teeth fillings are weakening.
Wrapping It Up
I hope that this guide on teeth/dental fillings gave you an idea of what to invest in. So remember to choose your options wisely if you’ll need your teeth filled now.
If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences getting dental fillings, share it in the comments section below. All your thoughts are much appreciated!