Patients require fillings in order to repair a variety of dental maladies such as minor tooth fractures, tooth decay, cavities or other damage to the tooth. Most people learn from a young age that if you get a cavity, you’re going to have to get a filling. While this is certainly true in order to maintain proper dental health, there is a bit more to it than that.
Tooth decay is usually caused by enamel loss within the tooth. This can be caused by several things, chief among them being poor dental hygiene. Habits such as grinding your teeth and chewing your fingernails can also contribute. Enamel loss can cause toothaches both minor and massive, as well as unbearable tooth sensitivity. If caught in its very early stages, a filling may not be needed, but it’s always safe to check. Even for small cavities, a filling is always the safest bet.
The purpose of a filling is quite simple. A dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill it with one of several types of bonding materials. This done by dumbing the area around the tooth and removing the decay with a drill, laser, or even an air abrasion tool.
Once the dentist has successfully removed all decay, he will prepare the area to be filled by cleaning the cavity or crack. of any forms of debris or bacteria. In some cases, if the decay has spread as far as the root of the tooth, the dentist might use a composite resin or a similar material in order to protect the nerve. Once the filling is applied, the dentist will smooth and polish it.
So what if you do need a filling? What options are available to you? Well, to name a few, there are:
Composite fillings: This is a tooth-colored resin filling that bonds to the tooth. This is much more cosmetic than the silver fillings (or amalgam) that most of us over 30 are used to. In fact, most people are now choosing these composite fillings over the traditional silver ones.
Silver/Amalgam fillings: These fillings tends to last a bit longer than composite fillings, but the color alone turns some people off of this option. Also, it’s important to note that in order to fit the tooth for a silver fillings, healthy portions of the tooth sometimes must be removed.
Cast Gold Fillings: While these fillings won’t corrode as quickly as others, they tend to be more expensive. Also, while some believe the gold to be much more alluring than amalgam fillings, others seem to see it as an eyesore.
Ceramics: These types of fillings are much more stain resistant than other fillings. Ceramic fillings have been said to be a bit abrasive and can often costs as much as gold fillings.