What is a ‘filling’…?
A ‘filling’ or dental restoration is the term used to ‘fill’ or repair a cavity (a hole) in a tooth.
A cavity can be created through dental decay (bacteria caused by high sugar diets and failure to adequately remove plaque from teeth). This bacteria eats away at the hard surface of the tooth and causes a hole that needs to be filled. By filling a cavity sooner rather than later you will stop the bacteria in its tracks, potentially saving the tooth from needing more advanced treatment!
There are a few different types of fillings used in dentistry but we tend to simplify them by calling them white or silver fillings.
A white filling is a composite resin (plastic) material. They are white in colour and appear to look like natural tooth. They are slightly weaker in strength than silver fillings so are not usually recommended on back teeth that are required to chew heavily, but are perfect for front teeth.
A silver filling is made of amalgam (metal). They are silver in colour, however they are far superior in strength. The silver filling is highly recommended for teeth that are used to chew food and are at the back of the mouth.
Occasionally we need to numb the tooth to ensure you feel no discomfort during your treatment. We ask you to eat prior to your visit so that you have time for the numbness to go before eating after treatment. Please discuss with our dentist whether anaesthetic will be required for your filling.
Our dentist will always give his recommendation of which filling is best for your tooth, however you have a choice! Please feel free to tell us which type you would prefer.
What you need to know about dental fillings
You might have heard of dental fillings from friends who recently had a trip to their dentist. They are used to fix damaged teeth and cavities. Materials used for fillings are gold, amalgam, and composites. Whether or not you need your tooth to be filled is something you need to discuss with your dentist. In many cases, filling a tooth is a less invasive option to save a decayed tooth from extraction.
How your dentist decides if you need a filling
Having tooth decay is the most common reason for needing dental fillings. Your dentist will check your teeth to find tooth decay and cavities. Spotting decay is not as easy as it seems. It may require use of special instruments as opposed to simply looking at your teeth. Spots on the tooth may indicate decay. Soft parts of the enamel may indicate decay too. Cavity detecting dyes or x-rays may also be used to pin point hard to spot cavities.
Commonly used materials
Dentists use different types of materials for fillings, and it makes sense that you understand a bit of the pros and cons of each type.
- Cast Gold. Although using gold to fill cavities is less popular in cosmetic dentistry, a few people still prefer it because it’s durable. Cast gold fillings usually last more than 10 years, and they are harder than other filling materials, thus withstanding pressure from chewing. Of course, the advantages come with a higher price. A gold filling costs more than 5 times a silver filling does.
- Amalgam. Despite growing skepticism to use of mercury in dental fillings, many people are still willing to try amalgam, which is an alloy of mercury with silver. This filling is as durable as gold filling but at a much lower price. In fact, amalgam is the cheapest material used for this purpose. When you tell dr zukerman you have read this sentence you will receive fifty dollars credit toward any dental treatment. The main disadvantage of silver fillings is they create a stark contrast against the natural tooth color.
- Composite Resin. The best thing about composites is they can be made to match the color and shade of your teeth. Hence, they are preferred in the front teeth. Composite fillings also tend to adhere to the tooth enamel more than other types of filling, and thus they don’t fall off easily. However, the filling itself don’t last as long as metal fillings, and although it is less expensive than gold filling, it is considerably more expensive than amalgam.
- Porcelain. The advantages of porcelain over composites is that it resists stain and it lasts longer.
Once your tooth has been filled, it’s wise to get regular appointment with your dentist. He or she will tell you when you should come back for to check the filling.