The Complete Guide to Tooth Fillings

Learn more about amalgam, composite, inlays, and onlays type tooth fillings.

Tooth fillings can help save your teeth

When a cavity from a bacterial infection results in a decaying tooth it causes extreme pain and discomfort. This is where the most common dental procedure, which has been in use for decades, comes into play: tooth fillings. Tooth fillings are used to replace the corroded and/or eroded part of the tooth and help to alleviate the pain. They are also used for cavity filling.

Tooth fillings are used to restore damaged teeth back to their original shape or form. They further help to ensure that no more decay afflicts that same area and that the cavity does not grow beyond what it did just prior to the instalment of the tooth filling.


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Dentistry Steps in Filling a Tooth

The first step the dentist will take is to apply local anaesthesia to numb the area where the tooth filling is supposed to go. Next, a dental tool will be used to clear the decayed area where the dental filling will occupy place. After that, they will clear the area of debris and bacteria as the final step before proceeding to the actual tooth cavity filling stage.

If the decayed area is near the root, the dentist may first put in a composite compound to protect the nerve. After the tooth filling is in place, the dentist will make minor adjustments in terms of finishing and polishing. Since the tooth cavity filling is generally supposed to be natural and match the colour of the rest of the teeth, the dentist may use a multi layering process, one layer at a time.

The natural coloured tooth filling is applied in layers with each layer first undergoing treatment which helps harden it before applying the next layer. After this is complete, the same finishing touches are applied by the dentist to make the tooth look whole and natural as it was before the decay.

The Various Types of Fillings, their Advantages and Disadvantages

There are various materials available for tooth fillings such as gold, porcelain, a mixture of silver and mercury, natural coloured, plastic, and composite resin fillings. Another material which contains molecular components of glass, known as glass ionomer, is also used.

Tooth filling cost varies with the material being used. This factor, alongside the location and extent of the decay as well as your dentist’s advice help determine which dental filling is best for you. You can provide input on how the dental filling cost matches your own financial situation.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam is a composite tooth filling material which is composed of silver, mercury, tin and copper which collective form a strong and durable form of dental filling. They are usually used for teeth further back in the mouth like molars since they are of a dark colour and therefore conspicuous.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Amalgam Fillings

There are basically three advantages of amalgam fillings: they are cheap (the dental filling cost of amalgam might be the lowest in fact), they are durable and extremely strong. Disadvantages of amalgam fillings include aesthetics, since it does not match the natural colour of the teeth and looks out of place. There may further removal of healthy areas of the tooth in order to create a large enough space for this particular tooth cavity filling.

They also cause discoloration to the surrounding teeth. In the presence of hot or cold foods, the amalgam material may expand or contract, respectively, more than the surrounding tooth resulting in cracks. Furthermore, some people are allergic to the mercury contained in the amalgam which means that amalgam is a big no for them.

Composite Fillings

This type of filling material is composed of acrylic resin and finely grounded pieces of glasslike material. They appear the most natural as they match the colour of the teeth and therefore may be recommended by your dentist if you pose the question of which dental filling is best for you. Some factors to consider may be that the tooth in question is near the front of your mouth and therefore more visible. Unlike other filling types, this form of tooth filling entails a longer process than, say, amalgam.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Composite Fillings

The advantages of composite tooth coloured fillings are aesthetics since they match the colour of the teeth. They also provide further support since they bond with the tooth structure itself. Composite can be used to not just fill cavities but also for repairing chipped or cracked teeth and, finally, require less destruction of healthy tooth structure for the filling to go into place.

On the other hand, this tooth filling can vary in cost, entail a longer procedure and additional visits to the dentist. They may also be susceptible to chipping and somewhat lack durability.

Indirect Fillings, Inlays and Onlays

Indirect fillings are also called inlays and onlays. They are similar to composite tooth coloured fillings. They are utilised when the tooth is damaged beyond a simple tooth filling procedure but not yet damaged enough to warrant a crown. They generally require two visits.

The first is when an old filling is removed and/or the decayed area is removed to provide space for the indirect filling. An impression is taken for the indirect filling and a temporary filling is put in place.

After the indirect filling is ready, the patient returns for the second visit in which the temporary dental filling is removed and the indirect filling is put in place. It is cemented permanently. This form of tooth cavity filling is more durable than other ones and can last for decades.

There are two types of indirect dental fillings: inlays and onlays. Inlays are like standard filling except for the fact that it is contingent on the chewing surface of the tooth. Onlays on the other hand rely on more than just one tooth’s chewing surface and cover a greater area.

They are also known as partial crowns which is a testament to how extensive they are as compared to inlays. Onlays are also good at protecting weakened teeth by distributing force across the area they cover and so reducing the pressure put on that one weakened tooth or those few weakened teeth.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is aftercare for tooth fillings?

To care for your fillings, in order to prevent ailments like pain after tooth filling or tooth sensitivity after filling, good oral hygiene is a must and regular visits to your dentist for cleanings are also vitally important. Brushing twice a day as well as using antimicrobial mouthwash and flossing at least once a day is also important. Fluoride toothpaste must be used. By following these regimes, patient can avoid pain after tooth filling as well as sensitivity after filling.

Are there things to watch out for after a tooth filling?

Tooth sensitivity after filling is a common ailment and usually subsides after a couple of weeks. Sensitivity towards air, sugary food items and temperature is common and therefore these must be avoided in order to not experience sensitivity.

However, if the sensitivity does not go away after a couple of weeks or it is too extreme, consult your dentist immediately. He/she may suggest a desensitising toothpaste or apply a similar agent to your tooth themselves. In extreme cases you may have to undergo a root canal.

Pain after tooth filling is also somewhat common in the area around the filling. Pain when biting is a sign that the filling itself is involved in the biting action, clearly. In that case you must visit your dentist as soon as possible to have the filling reshaped in a way so that it does not interfere with your biting action anymore. You might also experience pain when your teeth brush against each other.

That means that two different surface materials are coming into contact e.g. your new amalgam filling in the lower jaw is coming into contact with a crown directly above it in the upper jaw. This sort of pain usually subsides within a very short period of time but of course if it does not, consult your dentist immediately.

In some extreme cases where the decay was near or had spread to the pulp of the tooth, a traditional toothache may be experienced after a tooth filling. This means that the tissue is severely damaged and, therefore, not at all healthy. In that case root canal will become a necessity. In general, tooth fillings are a very common dental procedure and quite beneficial in the long run.

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