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Dental fillings restore damaged or decayed teeth. Sometimes they are recommended as a course of treatment for tooth fractures, heightened sensitivity brought on tooth grinding, and related dental conditions.

How will I know if I need a filling?

Decay is usually revealed during a regular dental examination or cleaning. But you may notice warning signs such as:

  • ● Toothache
  • ● Pain when biting or chewing
  • ● Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets

A careful inspection by your dentist, followed by x-rays, can determine if a filling is necessary. If he or she advises you to have a cavity filled, it’s important that you do so. If decay is left untreated, infection can set in and destroy the tooth’s nerve, causing an abscess.

What can I expect during the filling procedure?

With few exceptions, your treatment will proceed along the following lines:

  • Your dentist will go over the steps, explaining each one and giving you the opportunity to ask any questions.
  • If you have indicated beforehand that the prospect of dental treatment makes you anxious, sedation medication will be administered. 
  • The area receiving the filling will be completely numbed using a local anaesthetic.
  • The dentist will use a hand-piece or laser to clear away all damaged or decayed tooth material and then clean the area completely.
  • The cleaned-out space in the tooth structure will be filled with a premium filling material that closes off places where bacteria can get in, preventing further decay.
  • The dentist will examine your bite and if necessary reshape the filling material to enable a proper bite.
  • The filling material will be polished to make the tooth surface smooth and completely functional.

What filling material will be used?

The filling material that your dentist recommends will depend on the type and extent of the tooth damage. Other factors include the cavity location, biting force, and your medical history as well as your personal preference.

Common filling materials are:

  • Composite (plastic) resins: This popular filling is matched to your tooth colour and creates a natural appearance. Because these fillings are chemically bonded to the tooth structure, they provide solid and direct support to weakened teeth.
  • RMGI (Resin Modified Glass Ionomer): These tooth-coloured fillings are especially recommended for the elderly and children because the treatment is easy to tolerate, its time frame is relatively short, and there is less need for a local anaesthetic.
  • Gold: Gum tissues tolerate gold inlays very well, and they can last over 20 years, which is why many dentists prefer it as a filling material. However, gold fillings are comparatively expensive and will require more than one visit.
  • Porcelain: Often referred to as inlays or onlays, porcelain fillings are tooth-coloured, stain-resistant, and generally cover most of the tooth. Their price is similar to gold fillings.
  • Amalgam: Durable and compatible with most budgets, amalgam fillings are made using blended materials that resist wearing or degrading. They last an average of 10 years.

What happens afterward?

After the cavity has been filled, your dentist will explain the ways that you can prevent decay from forming around the filling or in your other teeth. At the very least you will want to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day. If you are at risk for caries, your dentist may also recommend fluoride mouth rinses and even sealants to protect your molars from plaque build-up and decay.