Dental fillings have long been used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay. Fillings are designed to strengthen weakened teeth and prevent additional decay from developing in the future. In most cases, the process is quick and painless, requiring only a few minutes in a dentist’s office.
If your dentist determines that you need a filling, the first step will be anesthetizing the tooth to prevent any discomfort during the procedure. Next, the dentist will remove any decayed material from the tooth, clean it, and ensure there are no bacteria remaining inside the tooth or on the surface. Finally, the filling material will be placed inside the cavity and allowed to harden.
Types of Filling Materials
There are many types of materials used to create dental fillings. Each offers different benefits and may be considered based on patient needs and preferences. In years past, patients had two options – gold fillings or silver amalgam fillings. Gold fillings were the strongest material, lasting up to two decades or more. However, they were also very expensive and required multiple office visits for treatment. The more affordable amalgam fillings were more popular, though their dark appearance makes them more noticeable to others.
Today, patients have a third option: tooth-colored fillings. Made of porcelain or composite material, a tooth-colored crown blends in with the natural tooth, making them undetectable to other people. Tooth colored crowns are affordable, inconspicuous and require only a single dental visit to complete. They are especially popular on the surface of highly visible teeth, where patients desire a more natural appearance.
Though tooth-colored fillings have only been around for a few decades, they are constantly improving and are now strong enough to last up to a decade before being replaced. Even better, composite fillings bond with the structure of the tooth, allowing the dentist to preserve more of the healthy tooth material when preparing the filling.
For more information about dental fillings and your options for restoring a decayed tooth, schedule an appointment with your dentist.