What is Dental/Tooth Filling?
A Dental/Tooth filling is where material (such as porcelain inlay/onlay or composite) is inserted into a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its original shape and function. This can be either a dental inlay (fills center of tooth) or onlay (more extensive than an inlay and can cover up to the entire biting surface of a tooth).
Fillings are most commonly used to prevent further damage to a tooth when decay is present. By removing the bacteria and closing the affected area off, no further tooth decay can occur.
The process of getting a tooth filling
Once your dentist has assessed your case and determined a tooth filling is the best solution, you will be booked in for your next treatment. In general, a filling treatment can last anywhere roughly between 30 minutes to an hour to complete all the necessary dental work.
Most dentists will prepare the area with numbing spray/gel before local anesthetic is used. This creates a more comfortable experience for patients by lessening the feeling of the local anesthetic needle.
Once the area is completely numb, the dentist will remove any decay with a drill and seal the area with a filling. To maintain proper bite function, the dentist will check with the patient to ensure that their bite feels normal. If necessary, part of the filling will be filed down to restore the natural bite.
After the treatment, your mouth will be numb for a few hours. During this time, it is not recommended to chew on the numb side of your mouth.
Fillings are a relatively straight forward procedure. However, it is good practice to keep your dentists number on hand in case you experience any discomfort.
Why Are Dental Fillings So Important?
We try to brush and floss regularly, and to avoid sugary between-meal snacks, but sometimes we just can’t seem to avoid tooth decay. According to a branch of the National Institutes of Health, tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease of children and adults. For most other people, cavities are a fact of life.
Another fact of life is the dental filling, a time-tested and effective way to keep tooth decay from doing further damage. True to its name, the filling seals up the small hole in your tooth that decay-causing bacteria have created. It’s one of the most common dental treatments dentists perform: Every time you go to the dentist office, you are checked to see if you have a cavity that needs filling, even if you don’t notice anything wrong.
It’s simple: If your tooth is left untreated, the decay wouldn’t go away — it would spread deeper inside the tooth. When it reached the pulp (nerve) tissue of the root canal, it would begin to cause real discomfort, or even intense tooth pain. The infection could spread further, and might result in the loss of a tooth — a complicated (and costly) problem to remedy.
Types of fillings
Porcelain fillings – inlay/onlay are tooth coloured and are created to match the current aesthetics of teeth. A porcelain filling is virtually indistinguishable from other healthy teeth and can last up to 20 years.
Composite fillings are similar to porcelain fillings; however, they can last 5-10 years when applied to teeth.
Gold fillings need to be created in a lab to fit the tooth cavity and are then cemented into place. They are the most expensive type of filling and require multiple visits. Gold fillings are well received by the surrounding gum tissue and can last for more than 20 years.
Amalgam fillings were the most common, cheapest filling available. However, amalgam fillings contain mercury and are not commonly used in Australia. Moreover, this type of filling can expand and contract in heat which can cause teeth to crack. For this reason, we do not offer amalgam fillings at Coastal Dental Care. Instead, we offer to replace old amalgam fillings with healthier tooth coloured fillings.