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Tooth Fillings

Most of us have one or more fillings. While getting a cavity filled is not a fun experience, we do strive to make it as painless as possible, and of course, it’s completely necessary. If we don’t fill the cavity, in time the tooth will die and have to be removed. Also, the cavity can spread to adjacent teeth and even lead to gum disease. It’s very important to get cavities filled as early as possible, and this is why regular checkups are recommended. Often we can find cavities before you notice them and fill them while they are still very small.

Filling Options

You’re probably familiar with silver (amalgam) fillings and may even have some, but there are other options that can make your fillings invisible or that are simply better for some situations.

Amalgam: These are the silver fillings already mentioned. They are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive, but of course, their color makes them inappropriate for front teeth and some patients don’t like visible fillings anywhere.

Gold: These have to be made to order at a dental lab and require more than one visit to put in place. Gold is of course chemically inert and so won’t cause irritation for people who may have very sensitive mouths. They can also last up to 20 years, however they are expensive.

Porcelain: Made in a lab, just like gold fillings, porcelain fillings are best when a large amount of the tooth needs to be replaced. These fillings are very durable and are bonded to your tooth, rather than hardening in place like composite fillings.

Composite (plastic) Resin: These are white fillings that match the color of your teeth, so are effectively invisible. They also feel a lot like your teeth, so even you won’t notice them. The downside is that these fillings may not last as long as other materials, and they will stain from coffee or tobacco, just like your teeth.

What Happens During the Filling Procedure

The dentist will begin by freezing the area of your mouth we’ll be working on. We can start with a topical anesthetic applied to your gum, so you’ll barely feel the needle. Then we administer freezing and make sure the area is entirely numb before we begin working. We use a dental drill to clean out the cavity, making sure there’s nothing left but a perfectly clean surface. It’s very important that no debris or bacteria be left behind, as this would start a new cavity under the filling.

Once we’re certain the cavity is perfectly clean, we’ll apply either an amalgam or composite filling and cure it in place. This takes only a few minutes. Alternatively, we will make a mold of the cavity to be sent to the lab to make a gold or porcelain filling or cap. In this case, we’ll create a temporary filling to protect the tooth while we wait for the new filling to arrive from the lab. Once we receive it, we’ll contact you to make an appointment to have the new filling inserted.

The freezing will wear off within a couple of hours and your mouth will soon feel normal again.