Dental fillings are used to restore a tooth that has been damaged. Damage can occur from decay or from impact that causes the tooth to break.

The filling is used to return the tooth to its previous shape to make it effective once again. The filling also helps to protect against further damage or corrosion that could be caused to the tooth.

When the dentist gives you a filling, they will first remove any decayed tooth material and clean the area that is going to be treated with the filling. The area that has then been cleaned will be filled with a filling material.

A filling can prevent bacteria from getting into the decayed tooth area and also allow the tooth to work effectively without causing pain to the individual. There are many different types of fillings and a range of different materials are used in the application of fillings too.

What types of Fillings are there?

There are many different types of fillings and they can be more or less effective on different dental problems. When you are being prepared to have a filling the correct material and type of filing will be chosen to suit you and the particular situation.

Factors such as allergies, location and cost will all be taken into account in deciding which type of filling needs to be used. Different materials for different types of filling include:

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings are made to order in the correct shape before then being cemented into the tooth that is being repaired. Gold is a good material to use for fillings because it doesn’t react with the gums and can last for 20 years or more before it needs replacing. Many dentists consider gold to be the best filling material.

The downside of gold fillings is that the material is both expensive and requires multiple visits. Gold fillings are also visible to the eye, depending on where in the mouth they are.

Silver Fillings

Silver fillings are similar to gold but they are cheaper because the metal is less expensive. Silver is slightly more reactive than gold, but is still relatively resistant to wear. The dark colour of silver does make these fillings visible to the eye depending on where they are located in the mouth. Silver fillings would normally only be used further back in the mouth and would not be used on the front teeth.

Composite Resins

These resins are a plastic material that is matched to the colour of the remaining teeth. By blending the colouration of the resin to the tooth it is possible to make these fillings completely unnoticeable.

These fillings are used when a natural appearance is required and is commonly used on the front teeth or in other visible areas that need fillings applied. When carrying out such a filling, the material is mixed and placed directly into the cavity where it is hardened.

Composites can chip and wear over time and can be stained by tea, coffee and tobacco, but if properly cared for they can last between three and 10 years. Commonly, such fillings will dislodge on hard foods when they fall out.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain is a form of ceramic that is produced in a dental lab and then bonded on to the tooth. These fillings can also be matched to the colour of the tooth and will be resistant to staining. Porcelain fillings are similar in price to gold but they are very hard wearing. Commonly, these fillings will cover most of the front of the tooth.

Where there is significant damage to the tooth, the dentist may recommend another form of filling known as a cap. This is a filling that covers most of the tooth and is commonly used where a fracture or significant decay has occurred.

When do you need a filling?

Only your dentist will be able to let you know if you need a filling. They will give you a filling if there is a cavity and they will only know this when they check up on your oral health.

During the checkup, the dentist will examine all of your teeth and look for any cavities. Where they are present, they may suggest a filling and in some cases may put one in there and then. Your doctor may also carry out X-rays on your teeth to ensure that the roots of your teeth are healthy and there is no decay going unnoticed.

If you are experiencing pain in your teeth or if your tooth breaks, it’s likely that you will need a filling. If you experience any damage to your teeth then you should go and see your dentist to determine whether you need a filling put into place.

How much does a dental filling cost?

The price of fillings can vary hugely depending on the type of filling you are being given and on the material being used. A filling will usually start at around $100 and can cost up to $300. The cost of the filling will be determined by the doctor and will also take into account the location and the time taken to repair the tooth.

How do you care for a filling in your mouth?

Once you have a filling in place you should take care of it to prevent it from falling out. It can take up to 48 hours for a filling to completely set and in this first period, you should follow the advice of the dentist to protect it.

When eating you should take the filling into consideration and you should avoid sticky foods that could pull the filling out. Chewing on the side that does not have the filling is another good way in which you can prolong the life of a filling.

Finally, you should always exercise good oral hygiene. Flossing and brushing regularly will help to keep your teeth in good condition and protect the filling too.

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