When a cavity develops, the standard dental procedure is to remove the decay and replace the lost tooth matter with a filling. Fillings are used to repair a tooth damaged by decay, cracks, and minor fractures. They come in a wide variety of materials, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The excellent durability of silver amalgam fillings often makes them a good choice. Unfortunately, they are also easily visible in contrast to the natural white color of teeth. The mechanical retention of amalgam fillings do make it necessary to involve removal of more tooth structure.
The advantage of a composite filling is its natural tooth coloration, which allows it to become essentially invisible, often making it the best choice for use in highly visible areas. Newer glass-ionomer fillings also release fluoride to help strengthen teeth and prevent further decay.
What can this procedure repair?
- Tooth decay
- Chipped/cracked/ or broken teeth
- Wide spaces between teeth
- Discoloration caused by Fluorosis (excessive fluoridation during tooth development)
- Stained teeth due to medications (tetracycline, etc.)
How is the procedure done?
Composite fillings can usually be placed in one appointment. The dentist will numb the tooth and remove decay. Then it will be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared for the new filling. In some cases where they decay comes close to the nerve of the tooth, special medication will be applied for added protection. Once the tooth is prepared, the dentist precisely places, sculpts, and polishes the composite filling, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.
Maintenance of Fillings
Fillings are not immune to decay and damage. You will still need to maintain proper oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly to help maintain the look and feel of your fillings.