Teeth are a vital part of everyday living and important to one’s overall health. Keeping teeth in good condition is not only a crucial part of a great smile and improved self-confidence, but also important to good nutrition for overall health. When teeth have cavities or decay, dental fillings are the solution to restore teeth back to its healthy state.
What are dental fillings?
Fillings do just what the name implies — seal a small hole in your tooth, i.e., a cavity, caused by decay. This prevents the decay (a bacteria-induced infection) from spreading further into your tooth and, if untreated, continue on to the sensitive inner pulp (nerve) tissue located in the root canal. Should that happen, you would need root canal treatment.
There are a variety of materials used to fill teeth these days, but the process of filling a tooth is similar regardless. The first step is a clinical exam of the tooth with x-rays, to determine the extent of the decay. Then the decayed area of the tooth is removed, usually with a handheld instrument such as a dental drill. Of course, your tooth will be anesthetized first, so you won't feel any discomfort. If you normally feel nervous about receiving numbing injections, it's possible that taking an anti-anxiety medication or using nitrous oxide can help you feel more relaxed. After removing the decay, the remaining tooth structure is roughened or “etched” with a mildly acidic solution; then translucent cement is applied to bond the tooth and the filling material together.
A dental filling is a specialized material used to “fill in” or replace parts of the tooth affected by decay and cavities. The dentist will remove the diseased portion of the natural tooth with specialized instruments then fill the cavity with specially formulated dental materials which creates a barrier to keep out foods, plaque and food particles as well as keep the tooth secure and structurally sound. Fillings can also be used to repair and strengthen cracked or broken teeth as well as teeth worn down by misuse such as nail-biting or teeth grinding.
Porcelain — These high-tech dental ceramics are strong, lifelike, and don't stain as composites can. They are sometimes more expensive than composites because they may require the use of a dental laboratory or specialized computer-generated technology. While considered the most aesthetic filling, they can also, because of their relatively high glass content, be brittle.
Why are dental fillings important?
Dental fillings are a very common and effective way to maintain excellent oral health.
A dental filling is a routine procedure and is an important part of keeping the teeth healthy, free of pain and structurally stable. In daily living and eating, plaque and acids in the mouth can build up and begin to break down the enamel of the tooth, resulting in tooth decay and cavities–which most often occur in areas where the toothbrush cannot reach. Most common areas occur in between teeth or in the fissures and crevices of the molars since plaque and acids in the mouth can easily build up in these hard-to-reach areas.
If the enamel is penetrated, the long-term health of the tooth becomes compromised and it is difficult, if not impossible to reverse the process. Dental fillings are needed to replace the decayed portions of the natural tooth and to prevent further decay, which can lead to root canal, gum disease and even tooth loss.
What are the benefits of dental fillings?
There are many benefits to dental fillings which include:
- Relatively simple and quick procedure
- Natural appearance to the tooth
- Long lasting results
- Cost effective (as insurances typically cover or partially cover most treatments)
What should I expect when I see a dentist for a dental filling?
There are various options when it comes to choices for fillings. Knowing each kind of material used in fillings can help you make the best choice.
- Amalgam (silver) fillings is made of a mixture of mercury, silver, copper and tin. These materials can last up to 12 years before they need to be replaced, and are usually less expensive than other options. It usually requires only one visit and can be completed in under an hour.
- Composite filling (tooth-colored filling) is a white, plastic or resin material which matches the color of the tooth and lasts in the range of five to seven years. This is also a fairly simple procedure which can be completed in one visit and less than an hour.
- Porcelain fillings which cover most of the tooth and also described as on-lays or inlays. These are measured and color-matched in the dental office, produced in a lab, then returned to the dental office where the dentist will bond it to the affected tooth. This requires multiple visits to complete the process.
Keeping your teeth at their best is essential to overall health. Visit our Orem dentist office or give us a call at 801-225-7712.