Dental fillings are the most common treatment for tooth decay. This restorative treatment is also used to repair minimal tooth damage on the surface of the tooth, such as chipped, worn, cracked, or broken teeth. Fillings require the dentist to remove the damaged portion of the tooth and then fill the cavity with dental material.
Most kinds of tooth damage that require dental fillings often result in tooth sensitivity, which can be considerably improved or completely eliminated following successful placement of filling material. But depending on the severity of the tooth decay or damage, your dentist may recommend additional or alternative treatments such as:
- Root canal – for abscessed, infected, or nerve damaged teeth
- Dental crown – for teeth requiring more support than offered by a conventional filling
- Dental implants or bridges – for cases that require tooth extraction to avoid leaving gaps in the mouth
There are different materials available for dental fillings, which are filled in one of two ways:
Method #1: Direct Filling
The fillings are placed directly into the damaged portion of the tooth after cleaning out the decay/area and shaping the cavity to hold the filling material. Materials such as amalgam or composite resin are then applied to the area using a bonding material. The material hardens quickly with the help of a special light. The fillings are applied in layers. The final layer is shaped to give it a natural look and feel.
Method #2: Indirect Filling
These procedure involves the placement of custom-made fillings that are made using a mold of the damaged tooth. Both procedures involve the use of a local anesthetic, though indirect fillings require at least two visits to the dentist.
Important consideration: Choosing the dental filling material
Allergic reactions to the different types of dental fillings are rare. These materials include:
- Cast gold – a mixture of gold with silver, platinum, or palladium for best durability
- Composite resin – tooth colored material for filling visible areas in the mouth
- Amalgam – least expensive option for filling cavities in molars
- Porcelain – tooth colored material that can be mixed with metal for superior strength
- Glass ionomer – great for people at high risk of cavities
Depending on the type and location of the damaged tooth, your dentist will recommend the kind of filling that is best for you, though the final decision is yours.