Dental fillings

A dental filling is the most typical treatment for cavities. What are fillings though and what are they made out of? Is the procedure painful? Read below to find everything you need to know about dental fillings.

What are dental fillings?

Dental fillings are synthetic materials used to close up cracks or holes in the enamel of teeth that are decaying, cracked, or damaged.

What are fillings used for?

Dental fillings may be used in cases of:

  • tooth decay, to fill in holes in the enamel but not the interior pulp of the teeth, which contains the blood vessels and nerves
  • teeth with damage or breaks where the enamel has chipped off and could be at risk for deterioration

What’s the process of getting a filling?

First, your dentist will numb the tooth’s surrounding area by using a local anesthetic. Next, the deteriorated region will be removed using a drill, air abrasion tool, or laser.

Then, to confirm if all of the decay has been removed, your dentist will probe or test the region. Your dentist will clean the cavity of bacteria and debris after removing the decay to prepare the area for the filling. Your dentist might initially place a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or another material to protect the nerve if the decay is close to the root. After placing the filling, your dentist will often polish it.

Additional steps are necessary for tooth-colored fillings. The tooth-colored material is put in layers after the decay has been removed and the area has been cleaned by the dentist. Then each layer is exposed to a specific light that “cure” or hardens it. The dentist will mold the composite material to get the desired result after the multilayering procedure is finished, trim off any extra material, and polish the finished repair.

What types of materials are used for fillings? 

Various dental filling materials are available today. Teeth can be filled with: 

  • White or tooth-colored fillings, commonly known as composite resin or white or plastic fillings, are made of a combination of powdered glass and plastic resin. These restorations often cover the tops of teeth and closely resemble the original tooth material they are replacing.
  • One of the most often used dental fillings is silver amalgam, sometimes known as silver fillings. These fillings are more resilient than other forms of filling because they are composed of an alloy of silver and mercury.
  • Glass ionomer cement is a tooth-colored, self-hardening combination of glass and organic acid. This substance is employed in temporary restorations, tiny filings, and the gluing of porcelain or metal crowns.
  • Crowns and partial dentures are made of gold alloys, which are mixtures of gold, copper, and other metals. They can also be used for fillings. These are incredibly resilient but might be pricey and might also make the tooth more sensitive.

Are amalgam-type dental fillings safe?

Concerns have been voiced over the past few years over silver-colored fillings, often known as amalgam fillings. Some people believe that these fillings, which contain the hazardous chemical mercury, are to blame for a variety of illnesses, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

There is no evidence to support dental fillings harm consumers, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), the FDA, and numerous public health organizations. There is still no recognized etiology for autism, Alzheimer’s disease, or multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, there is no credible scientific evidence to support the assertion that having amalgam fillings removed can cure a person of these ailments.

While amalgam fillings do include mercury, when combined with other metals like silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they create a durable alloy that has been used by dentists for more than a century to save and repair hundreds of millions of decaying teeth.

In June 2008, the FDA announced, “Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses.” As well as, “Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner,” according to the FDA.

Possible issues with dental fillings

Tooth pain and sensitivity:

Following the procedure of a filling, tooth sensitivity is pretty typical. A tooth may be sensitive to temperature, sweet foods, air, pressure, or hot and cold. Within a few weeks, the sensitivity usually goes away on its own. Avoid the things that are making you sensitive during this time. In most cases, painkillers are not necessary.

If the sensitivity persists after two to four weeks or if your tooth is particularly sensitive, call your dentist. They might suggest a root canal operation, advise using a desensitizing toothpaste, or apply a desensitizing substance directly to the tooth.

Another issue possible is pain near the fillings. The filling may be obstructing your bite if you suffer discomfort when you bite. You will have to visit your dentist again to get the filling reshaped. If you experience pain when your teeth come into contact, two separate metal surfaces are probably to blame (for example, the silver amalgam in a newly filled tooth and a gold crown on another tooth with which it touches). Within a short length of time, this pain should go away on its own.

You can also feel pain that is similar to a toothache if the decay was severe or located near the tooth pulp. This tissue may no longer be healthy, given the “toothache” reaction. If so, root canal therapy might be necessary.

Deteriorated fillings:

Dental fillings can become worn down, chipped, or cracked under constant pressure from biting, grinding, or clenching. Even though you might not notice that a filling is deteriorating, your dentist might find faults in them during a routine examination.

Food crumbs and germs that cause tooth decay may penetrate fillings if the barrier between the filling and tooth enamel breaks down. You then run the risk of that tooth getting more decay. Untreated decay can advance to infect the dental pulp and result in an abscessed tooth.

There might not be enough tooth structure left to support a replacement filling if the existing filling is massive or the recurring decay is severe. In some situations, your dentist might have to use a crown in place of the filling.

Inadequate cavity preparation, contamination before the filling is put in, or a fractured filling from a bite or chewing trauma can all cause new fillings to fall out. More often than not, decay or fracture of the surviving tooth will cause older restorations to be lost.

Final thoughts

One of the most effective ways to treat cavities is with dental fillings, and the majority of us will need one at some point in our life. Fillings can be made from a variety of materials. Although dental fillings have an endless lifespan, appropriate maintenance can increase that life and maintain the health of your smile for longer.

Visit The Smile Lounge’s website to learn more if you’re interested in finding out more information about dental fillings. We provide top-notch dentistry encompassing a comprehensive range of services in a friendly, welcoming setting. Make an appointment with us right away to experience the tranquil, welcoming environment we provide for each patient.

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