During the treatment of cavities by your dental professional, that portion of your tooth that is decayed will first be removed. Next, the dentist will fill out the decayed area of your tooth using a specialised filling material (more on this a bit later).
Your dental professional may also make use of fillings in repairing broken, chipped or cracked portions of your teeth. Fillings can also be used in repairing worn down teeth, as a result of misuse and bad habits like tooth grinding and nail-biting.
How is Tooth Filling Done?
In carrying out a tooth filling procedure your dentist would first of all place you on a local anesthetic. This will help to keep the surrounding region around the targeted tooth numb and make the procedure a painless one.
The next step after applying local anesthetic is to have the decayed portion removed. This is done using any of; laser, a hand-held air abrasion, or a specialised drill Instrument.
Whatever instrument is used to take out the decayed portion of the tooth rests entirely on the discretion of the dentist carrying out the procedure.
A test or probe of the decayed portion is conducted by the dentist as a way of checking to see if every part of the decayed area has been successfully removed.
If all the decayed portions of the tooth are removed, the gap created is then prepared for the filling. Preparation of the area involves cleaning out the cavity of both debris and bacteria.
Note that in a situation where the tooth decay occurs close to the root, a liner may be placed by the dentist in order to keep the nerve safe and well protected. The liner used may be made from a number of materials, such as; composite resin or glass ionomer. Once the dentist puts the filling in the tooth, he/she will finish off by polishing it.
Types of Tooth Filling
There are quite a number of tooth fillings available today. Some of these materials include;
- Composite resin (this consists of glass and plastic materials),
- Silver amalgam (comprises of mercury, tin, silver, copper, and zinc), and
The type of filling that would be used vary from case to case and all depends on the following;
- the degree of severity of the tooth decay,
- the location of the tooth decay,
- the cost of the tooth filling material,
- the insurance coverage of the patient, and the discretion of the dentist.
Merits and Demerits of Silver & Gold Dental Filling Materials
Gold fillings are highly durable and can actually last for between a decade and 15 years. In addition, gold fillings DO NOT corrode and they have very good strength. This type of filling can withstand the force generated during biting and chewing. Also, some patients actually prefer gold fillings because it looks cool.
The major drawback to gold filling is its cost, it is pretty expensive and may cost as much as ten times the cost of other fillings like a silver amalgam filling. You may also need to visit the dentist office a couple of times before the filling can be fitted.
Another drawback with gold filling is “galvanic shock”. This is a sharp pain that a patient feels when the filling is placed besides a silver amalgam filling.
Silver Amalgam Fillings:
Just like gold fillings, silver amalgam fillings also last for about 15 years. It is strong and can equally withstand chewing and biting forces. In terms of cost, silver amalgam costs less than composite resin fillings.
However, if you are looking for a filling that will match the natural colour of your teeth, silver amalgam is NOT for you. Silver Amalgam also has the tendency to cause the other portions of the tooth to develop a greyish colour. Before you use silver amalgam fillings, make sure that you are not allergic to the mercury which is present in the amalgam.