What is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a procedure used by a dentist when he/she is removing a cavity. The dentist will drill around the decayed area in the tooth to remove the cavity and then ‘fill’ in the removed space with a dental filling. Because the materials used to create fillings are meant to mimic the look and durability of teeth, they can also be used to repair chipped or broken teeth.
After the material is inserted into the cavity, the dentist will use instruments to shape it into the rough shape of the desired tooth. The dentist will shape the tooth to look natural, matching the color and shape of the other teeth, thereby unaffecting the patient’s smile. Using a special ‘blue light,’ the dentist will harden the material in a matter of seconds, and then shape and polish the hardened material to complete the restoration.
Types of Dental Fillings
- Amalgam Fillings – Also called silver fillings, these are resistant to wear and highly durable. They can cause some discomfort for the patient later in life, and as such are not as commonly used
- Gold Fillings – Possibly the most famous of the types of dental fillings, gold fillings are durable and can last up to 20 years. Gold can be an expensive option and as such is not often the patient’s first choice.
- Composite Fillings – Composite fillings are the most common type of fillings. Made of a resin base, these fillings are designed to mimic the exact color of teeth and offer the dentist the widest variety. Composites may wear over time and can also become stained by coffee – just like real teeth!
- Porcelain fillings – called inlays or onlays, these types of fillings are produced in a lab and then chemically bonded to the tooth. They are similarly priced to gold fillings but can be created to match the color of surrounding teeth.
For dental fillings, Dr. Mahan will advise on what option is the best per each situation. For more general knowledge about dental fillings, do not hesitate to call our friendly staff to learn more.