Types of Tooth Fillings

Dental fillings are among the most common of all dental procedures in the United States; at one point or another, most everyone needs one. Fillings are a form of dental restoration that literally fill in the gaps left by cavities, tooth fractures, and root canals. The process of getting a filling is largely quick and painless with very little in the way of a recovery period; generally speaking, people go from the dentist’s chair back to their regular day without it having caused much of a disruption.

While fillings are essentially mandatory when needed – fillings play an important role in not only restoring teeth but also preventing continued damage or decay – there are some choices to be made surrounding materials used. Your dentist will likely make a recommendation, but the following provides some information on all of the materials used in dental fillings so that you can make an informed decision if and when you need a filling.

Steps of Dental Fillings

Regardless of the material used, there is a set procedure in terms of having a dental filling done. First, your dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic such as Novocain. This will numb the area enough that you don’t feel any pain from the rest of the procedure, but not so much that you can’t feel the rest of your mouth or face. Novocain also has a somewhat lasting effect, which means that you might have some lingering numbness for a few hours following the procedure. Your dentist will remind you to be careful when biting or chewing so that you don’t bite the inside of your mouth while it is numb.

Once the area is numb, your dentist will then drill out the decayed or damaged tooth material, from the enamel down into the dentin. Because the area has been numbed, this will not hurt, though you will feel some pressure and hear the sound of the drill.

Finally, once the area thoroughly is cleaned out, a filling material will be applied, shaped, and hardened with an ultraviolet light. Your dentist will then check your bite pattern to ensure that the shape is appropriate. If needed, further adjustments can also be made at subsequent visits.

Materials Used in Dental Fillings

One of the most common kinds of filling material used is composite resin, which blend in visually with the rest of one’s teeth because they are the same color. While these are visually appealing and have a lower cost point than porcelain inlays, for example, they are not very durable and are also susceptible to staining. Because the material can be added and shaped in the mouth, composite fillings are generally an affordable, natural-looking option.

Porcelain inlays, in comparison, are custom-made in a dental laboratory and then cemented in place. Like composite fillings, porcelain inlays are tooth-colored; they are also stain resistant. Because they are custom-made and the material itself is more expensive, porcelain inlays have a high price point.

Likewise, gold fillings are custom-made in a lab and place much like porcelain inlays. While gold fillings are perhaps the most durable, they are also the most expensive and they do not blend in with the rest of one’s teeth due to their color.

Finally, amalgam fillings are composed a durable blend of metals bonded together with elemental mercury. They are determined to be safe, effective, and resistant to damage over time, which is why they are a preferred type of filling for molars, where the flash of silver is usually not visible. Amalgam fillings are also a very cost-effective option, with the lowest price point of all of these materials.

Cost of Tooth Filling

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