What is a Filling?
A dental filling is a type of dental restoration that is use to repair a tooth damaged by decay or fracture. The dentist will numb up the tooth and remove the portion of the tooth damaged by decay so it is clean. Then your dentist will place a tooth colored filling material that is chemically bonded to the tooth to replace the missing area. Many dentists still use silver fillings called amalgams which contain mercury. The good news is that Dental Designs of Maryland places white tooth colored fillings made of a composite-resin with no mercury whatsoever.
Types of Cavities
- Occlusal cavities – These are the most common areas where cavities are found, the chewing surfaces of “tops” of the teeth. Food often gets impacted into the pits and grooves of these teeth and without proper home care, can turn into cavities.
- Root cavities – These cavities common occur in older adults who are dealing with periodontal issues such as receding gums. Because the root is exposed and not properly protected by enamel it is extremely susceptible to invasion from harmful bacteria.
- Interproximal cavities – These are another common type of cavity that occur in between the contacts of the teeth. They are often found on patients that do not floss regularly because food gets trapped in between teeth which is not cleaned out, and creates harmful acid which leads to cavities. These are easy to fix however require significantly more reduction in tooth structure than the other two types, so make sure to floss frequently!
Why You May Need a Filling?
If we find decay developing in your tooth, this cavity can trap food and bacterial, allowing the decay to spread. If this decay continues unabated it will eventually reach the nerve in the middle of the tooth, called the pulp chamber, and cause severe damage and pain. This leads to root canal and crown treatment, and also the possibility of losing the tooth if the decay is large enough. Filling a cavity when found early stops the growth and spread of decay and protects the tooth from further damage.
Why Use Composite Fillings?
There are various types of fillings including porcelain fillings, gold fillings, metal amalgam fillings, as well as white resin fillings. These various materials are placed inside the missing area after your dentist cleans out the decay from the tooth. Historically, amalgam fillings were the chosen option for the majority of dental professionals as a more economical alternative to gold. They remained popular due to their longevity and ease of placement. Studies over the past two decades have shown that metal fillings can be harmful to teeth in the long term due to the metal expanding and contracting with temperature change, hence putting pressure on the tooth and causing fractures. These days most dentists and patients prefer a composite resin filling, which is mercury free and can mimic the color and appearance of regular teeth. These composite fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and ceramic, and can be color matched to a variety of shades of tooth and root structure. The filling material begins as a soft, moldable paste with a Play-Doh consistency, which allows the dentist to shape and layer the filling as needed. A light is then used to harden the filling material and prepare it for final polish and bite check.
Advantages of Tooth Colored Fillings
- Color matched to blend in beautifully with existing teeth
- Free of any mercury or heavy metals, unlike amalgam fillings
- Do not expand and contract so they will not cause weakening of the tooth over time
- Long lasting, strong and durable
- More economical, quicker, and easier to place than options such as inlays, onlays, or gold foil
If you are near the Perry Hall, MD area and would like to know more about tooth colored fillings, or if you suspect you may need a filling, call us today for a new patient appointment. Don’t neglect your oral health. If you suspect you may have a cavity it’s important to make an appointment for treatment as soon as you can.