Dental tooth fillings are necessary to repair any area where tooth decay has been removed by the dentist or as the result of a dental emergency.
Tooth fillings repair the function and shape of the affected tooth and provide many years of tooth protection.
During a tooth filling procedure, the dentist removes the tooth’s damaged portion, leaving as much healthy tooth as possible. The tooth’s resulting void will then be cleaned out and filled with one of many tooth filling materials.
The filling will help stop further decay by sealing off any cracks or crevices where bacteria could enter. There are several filling materials available, each with their pros and cons that will be discussed by the dentist.
For cosmetic reasons, most dentists recommend composite-base fillings or commonly known as “tooth color” fillings.
Types of tooth fillings:
- Amalgam Fillings – Dentists have used amalgam fillings for over a century due to their durability and low cost.
- Composite Fillings – Using tooth-colored resin fillers, the dentist can closely match your teeth’s natural color.
- Metal Fillings – Gold and noble metals are the most common metals used for indirect restorations (crown, inlays, onlays).
- Ceramic / Zirconia Fillings – A ceramic filling is also tooth-colored and may be less likely to show tooth stains over time.
What to expect during your filling procedure?
- The dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth and make the procedure as painless as possible. Patients with severe anxiety may choose IV Sedation.
- A dental tool removes the decayed area and creates a void.
- The dentist removes Bacteria and debris from the area or void.
- The dentist then fills the area where the cavity was removed with the material of choice, shaping and polishing the filling for fit, comfort, and cosmetic appearance.
The entire process of a tooth filling will take about an hour or less. Depending on the filling material, a tooth filling can last from 5-15 years; however, filling life is directly impacted by your overall oral hygiene, home care, and dental habits.
Make sure you are brushing and flossing every day and attending your regularly scheduled checkups with your dentist.