Everything You Need to Know About Dental Fillings
A dental filling restores decayed tooth structure. Tooth decay is a serious problem which, left untreated, can cause bad breath and toothaches. In severe cases, it can lead to a hollowed-out tooth. We at Iqaluit Dental Clinic suggest you get a dental filling for tooth decay as soon as possible because the tooth might have to be removed if the condition worsens. This article discusses everything about tooth fillings, such as the types of fillings available, when you should get them, the process in general, and how to take care of them.
What are the different types of fillings available?
Modern science has discovered materials that can be used in tooth fillings. The dentist usually recommends the best filling, but other factors such as cost, location of the decay, and insurance coverage influence the final decision. Here are the different categories of fillings:
1. Silver Fillings (Amalgams) – Silver amalgam fillings can last for 10 to 15 years and can withstand a significant amount of chewing force. They are also cheaper compared to composite fillings.
However, silver fillings are not very aesthetic and do not match the natural colour of your teeth. The tooth structure around the amalgam can also turn greyish, which also doesn’t look good.
Besides looks, silver amalgams can also cause teeth to crack. Under the influence of cold and hot liquids, teeth contract and expand. The same laws apply for fillings, and silver ones expand and contract a bit more compared to the other options (gold and composite). It can lead to cracks and fractures in your teeth. Nonetheless, it’s the cheapest option available and is widely used by the majority of individuals.
2. Gold Filings – Gold fillings are more pleasing to the eye. In terms of duration, they too can last for 10-15 years and can withstand heavy amounts of chewing. The only added benefit is that gold fillings are immune to corrosion.
You should also know that gold fillings can be 10 times more expensive than silver amalgam fillings. They also require two official visits to be installed properly.
Because of the cost and aesthetics, gold fillings used to be quite rare. Most people preferred natural-looking teeth over shiny ones. However, recently, more people are shifting towards gold fillings.
3. Composites resin – Composite fillings are by far the most natural-looking fillings available to the public. Thanks to its natural colour, it can even be used on the frost set of teeth. They are micro-mechanically bonded to the teeth, and you can choose the colour of the material as well. Composites can also be used to repair teeth instead of only filling cavities.
However, the biggest disadvantage of a composite is its durability. Compared to gold and silver amalgam fillings, these only last for 5-7 years. They can even wear out faster if the cavity is too big and if you do a lot of chewing. If they are located in a tricky spot, your teeth might even wear them out.
Composite fillings are applied in layers, which also takes longer and, in some cases, multiple visits to the dentist. They may not be as expensive as gold, but they are still more expensive than silver amalgam.
4. Ceramics – Ceramic fillings cost as much as gold, but they last longer (15 years). They are crafted out of porcelain, which is way more resistant to wear and staining than composite resin.
5. Glass ionomer – In terms of duration, glass ionomers last for up to 5-7 years. They are usually recommended for children, but some adults also get them. In fact, it’s one of the more popular ones thanks to its unique qualities.
These are made from a certain type of glass and acrylic and are used below the gum line. Glass ionomers also release fluoride, which can prevent decay in your teeth. But the material is still weaker than any other filling mentioned above. Some can last as long as composite fillings, but most wear out by the five-year mark.
When do you need a dental filling?
Any kind of tooth decay warrants a filling. Here is a list of symptoms that mean that you need a filling:
1. Broken or chipped teeth.
2. A hole inside your tooth.
3. Food gets stuck between the teeth repeatedly.
4. Multiple cavities.
5. Sensitivity towards cold and hot foods (especially beverages)
You should consult a dentist if you have been experiencing one or more of these symptoms.
What is the process of filling a tooth?
Tooth filling is a simple process and does not require any hospitalisation. The most you will be asked to do is to eat and drink fluids for 2-3 days. Here are the steps:
1. Preparation – The dentist prescribes an X-ray to check the extent of the tooth decay. In the case of severe decay, the tooth has to be removed.
2. Anaesthesia – The dentist injects a local anaesthetic via an injection so that you don’t feel pain when they are operating.
3. Drilling – An abrasion instrument, laser, or drill is used to remove the decayed parts of the teeth. The filling won’t stick to non-solid ground (plaque), so it has to be taken out first.
4. Cleaning – Once the decay is removed, they will proceed to clean the filling space, to remove any remaining debris, such as chipped teeth.
5. Liner – The dentist lines the inner part of the hole with a glass ionomer or composite resin to prevent the bacteria from reaching the nerves. In the case of inflammation, they might proceed with a root canal treatment instead of a simple filling.
6. Filling – Once the cavity is cleaned up, the dentist pours in the filling. Finally, they proceed to smoothen the edges after the filling solidifies.
Tooth decay is a serious problem. It can even cost you the affected tooth if left undetected for too long. That’s why we at Iqaluit Dental Clinic suggest you see a dentist right away for a professional diagnosis. Even if you are sure there is no cavity and it’s only a matter of sensitivity, give them a visit. You never know what’s lurking in that mouth of yours.