When Dental Fillings Become a Treatment Option

Tooth decay can happen to anyone, even with good oral hygiene. When tooth decay wears away through your enamel, a cavity can form. When this occurs, dental fillings become a treatment option. Dental fillings have come a long way in recent years and there are many choices one can discuss with their dentist in terms of the procedure and what materials will be used. Your dentist will then remove the decay and replace it with a filling to prevent further decay. It is important to address cavities immediately before they penetrate the tooth and a filling no longer becomes an option and more drastic action, such as a root canal, is needed.

If the decay is minimal enough so that a dental filling is still a treatment option, there are several different materials your filling could be made from such as:

  • Amalgam Fillings: These are the traditional silver fillings that most dentists used to use. These fillings have been used for over 100 years. You may have older fillings in your mouth that are amalgam. While they are resilient, one of the biggest drawbacks to this type of filling is the color as they are quite visible within the mouth.
  • Composite Resins: These fillings, unlike amalgam fillings, are tooth colored. They can be used on front or back teeth and are fairly strong, able to withstand small to mid-sized fillings.
  • Gold Fillings: Even older in dentistry than the amalgam fillings, gold has been used for over 1000 years. While strong, gold fillings are also highly noticeable and can be very expensive, therefore they are not as common as other types of fillings.
  • Ceramics: Often made from porcelain, ceramic fillings are expensive, similar to gold fillings. They are natural looking and typically last about 15 years. One of the positives to this type of filling is that they do not stain easily.

When dental fillings become a treatment option, your dentist will usually take an x-ray to explore the extent of the decay. He/she will then use a local anesthesia so that you will not feel them working on your tooth. The dentist will remove all of the decay using a drill or a laser. Once all of the decay is removed, the dentist will then place the filling in the material which you discussed. When the filling is in place and has set, the dentist will polish the tooth to smooth off any hard edges.

After you receive your filling, you want to care for your teeth carefully and continue to floss and brush regularly. Notify your dentist immediately if there are extremely rough edges, problems with your bite, or increased pain and/or sensitivity that does not go away. Pain is never a good thing and may signify that there is a more serious problem.

Ideally, your filling can last you a decade or more, however, there are many instances in which a filling may need to be replaced. If your filling falls out, leaks, wears out, is subject to teeth grinding, or cracks, you may need your filling to be replaced. Your dentist will check your fillings during your routine exams for signs of wear. Today, it is common for people to request their amalgam fillings to be replaced with other materials that are tooth colored so that their smile looks better aesthetically.

Dental fillings are a great treatment option when cavities are caught early. It is essential to schedule routine cleanings and exams so that your dentist can catch decay as soon as possible. The smaller the filling, the more material options there are available. When you go to the dentist, they will visually look for cavities and can possibly use other tools as well such as an x-ray or cavity detecting dye.

The best kind of filling, however, is not having to have a filling at all! Be sure to try and stay on top of brushing, flossing, and using a fluoride based toothpaste to try and prevent decay the best you can. If you suspect you have a cavity, contact your dentist’s office immediately for the quickest intervention so that a dental filling is still a treatment option for you.

If you want to learn more your treatment options, be sure to contact us today.