What are dental fillings?
Fillings are dental restorations that are used to restore the structure, function and appearance of a tooth that has been damaged or decayed. Dental fillings can also help to alleviate tooth pain you may be experiencing related to cavities.
Why are dental fillings used?
Tooth fillings can be used to repair a tooth that has fractures, cracks, or tooth decay. They help restore functionality to your tooth and in some circumstances, dental fillings can be used to make cosmetic improvements to your smile.
What are some signs I may need a dental filling?
While you should see a dentist to confirm whether you need a filling, here are some signs that you may have a cavity that needs a tooth filling:
- You experience a sharp or throbbing pain in your tooth.
- You can see a hole or dark spot on a tooth.
- Your tooth is broken or chipped.
- You have a tooth that feels rough to the touch.
- Food keeps getting stuck between certain teeth.
- An existing tooth filling has broken or cracked.
- You've lost a tooth filling and need a replacement.
What are dental fillings made of?
Dental fillings can be made of a number of materials, from amalgam to composite, porcelain and gold. While each of these materials is safe and long-lasting, they also each have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to repairing a cavity or decay.
Porcelain Fillings Can Offer Strength & Appearance
Also called inlays and onlays, porcelain fillings are brittle, hard, and made in combination with metal. Fabricated in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist to be placed, these strong, tooth-coloured dental restorations are typically used on molars as they are more durable and longer lasting than a regular dental filling.
In most cases, it will be necessary to attend two dental appointments in order for your porcelain filling to be placed.
Composite Fillings Can Provide a Natural Look & Feel
Because they are very similar in colour to natural teeth, composite fillings tend to blend in well with the surrounding teeth.
They look and feel natural, and are popular with patients who are concerned with how amalgam (grey) fillings may appear on teeth that are visible when they smile.
Dentists like composites because they are easy to sculpt and shape onto a tooth, and bond naturally to a tooth. This means your dentist won’t need to remove as much existing enamel when preparing the tooth.
Your dentist will remove tooth decay and add bonding material to the inside of the hole so the filling can be placed. Composite resin is then layered in the hole.
A curing light is used to harden each layer. When the last layer of resin has hardened, the filling will be carefully shaped to match the form of your natural teeth.
Gold Fillings May Provide Extra Durability
Cast gold fillings are made using a model of your tooth. Created from a mix of gold combined with other materials such as copper and silver, a cast gold filling is created in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist to be placed over the tooth.
When you visit your dentist to have your good filling placed, the custom made filling will be cemented firmly over the damaged tooth. Though this type of filling is considered the most durable (typically lasting 20 years or more) it is also the most costly. You'll also require at least two dental appointments to have it placed.