A dental filling is a type of restorative dentistry treatment used to repair minimal tooth fractures, tooth decay or otherwise damaged surfaces of the teeth. Dental filling materials, which include composite, porcelain and silver amalgam, may be used to even out tooth surfaces for better biting or chewing.
Enamel loss is a common component of tooth decay, and may result in tooth sensitivity. In many cases, tooth sensitivity caused by enamel loss will be significantly improved or completely eliminated once an appropriate dental filling material is placed. But in some cases, depending on the extent of tooth decay or damage, the affected tooth may require additional or alternative procedures, such as
- Dental Crowns: Teeth requiring more support than offered by a traditional filling may require a dental crown.
- Dental Implants and Dental Bridges: Irreparable tooth damage requiring tooth extraction may require an implant or bridge.
- Root Canals Treatment (perhaps along with antibiotic treatment): Infected, abscessed or nerve damaged teeth may require a root canal procedure.
Dental Fillings Consultation and Treatment Planning
One of the more common oral health issues discovered during cleanings is decay. The dentist will examine suspected teeth using a dental probe and liquid to detect caries, as well as utilizing an X-ray to determine the extent and the exact location of the cavity and decay.
Once it is determined that a filling is needed, the dentist will advise you of your options for filling and sealing the cavity, to prevent further decay and damage to the tooth. Based on your medical history, the location of the cavity, aesthetic needs, biting force, durability, cost, number of visits necessary and your preference, your dentist will decide which filling option should be best taken. These options include direct composite bonding, amalgam (silver), gold or inlays/onlays created in a dental laboratory, or using CAD/CAM equipment.
Depending on your best option, the dentist may be able to complete your filling immediately. In preparing the treatment, the area surrounding the affected tooth will be anesthetized (numbed) using a local anesthetic.
If necessary, you also may receive a form of sedation dentistry to ensure your comfort. Keep in mind however that if you undergo sedation dentistry, you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.
Dental Fillings Procedure
In order to restore the damaged area, the dentist begins the dental filling procedure by preparing the tooth and necessary surrounding areas. The decay or damage is removed with a dental hand-piece or laser and the area is cleansed to remove bacteria or debris before the restoration is completed.
The first step in performing a composite filling procedure involves isolation of the tooth. Tooth isolation is critical in a composite restoration, because it prevents moisture from interfering with the bonding process. The bonding procedure requires the placement of various adhesives followed by the composite material, which is then hardened with a special bonding light. The completed composite restoration is both functional and natural looking.
Dental Fillings Recovery and Aftercare
After the cavity has been filled, your dentist will discuss steps you can take to prevent decay from forming under or around the filling or in other teeth.
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing with dental floss or a dental cleaner once a day is advised. Keep appointments with your dentist for routine check-ups and teeth cleanings. Depending on your risk for caries, your dentist may also suggest sealants that can be placed over your molars to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay, as well as the use of fluoride mouth rinses as an additional preventive measure.
Since diet and nutrition affect oral health, it will be important to maintain a balanced diet and limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks and between meal snacks.