Dental fillings are one of the most common types of restorative treatments, used to improve the appearance and functionality of teeth affected by damage or decay. The filling materials, which can be made from several different substances, help to even out tooth surfaces for more efficient biting and chewing. These restorations can last for many years and help keep the tooth looking and functioning at its best.
Types of Dental Fillings
Composite fillings are made of a glass or quartz filler within a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored material. Also known as filled resins, composites are often used in small to mid-size restorations, as they provide strength, durability and resistance to fracture. In addition, the shade of composite fillings is made to closely match the patient’s actual teeth, so that other people will not be aware that dental work has been done.
Glass ionomers are also tooth-colored fillings that are made of a mixture of acrylic and glass, and are most often used in young children, as they release fluoride. However, this material is weaker than composites and usually lasts less than five years before a replacement is needed.
Amalgam fillings have been used for many years and are considered strong, durable and relatively inexpensive compared to other materials. Although strong and effective, many patients do not choose to use amalgam fillings because of their silver color that can be visible while eating, speaking or smiling.
Dental Filling Procedure
During the filling procedure, the tooth is prepared by removing any decay or damage in the area with a dental hand piece or laser and then cleaning the tooth surfaces. The filling material is then placed in the targeted area, where it will be finished and polished to best match the appearance of your natural teeth. Dental fillings are placed during a single procedure in your dentist’s office.
Some patients may require additional support after their filling procedure, such as the placement of a crown, implant or bridge. A root canal may be needed for severely damaged or infected teeth.
Your dentist will discuss your filling options with you before your procedure to determine the best option for your individual condition.