Checking for tooth decay and wear is an important part of your dental checkup. If our dentist finds cavities or cracked teeth, the solution is usually to fill the tooth with fillings. Getting a filling for your damaged teeth can help you keep them for as long as possible. So, if you have a tooth that is painful or sensitive to hot and cold, it is important to see your dentist.
Preparing the Tooth for Filling
Before filling a tooth, your dentist examines it and takes x-rays to determine the condition of the tooth and the exact location of the damage. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, the dentist uses a drill, laser or air abrasion tool to remove the damaged portions of the tooth. The next step is to prepare the tooth for filling by cleaning out any harmful bacteria and/or debris.
Suppose you have a painful tooth, but want to put off getting a filling because of time or money constraints. In that case, our dentist can put in a temporary filling to protect your tooth root and gums while relieving the immediate pain. Temporary fillings are used for protection between dental visits when more than one separate appointment is required for a more complex treatment such as a root canal and filling.
Choosing a Filling Material
Your dentist will help you decide what type of filling you need and want for each tooth. If you need to have more than one tooth filled, you might opt to have a tooth-colored or gold filling in the front and silver fillings in the back of your mouth.
Cast Gold Fillings
Many people like the look of gold fillings. However, the value of using gold for fillings goes beyond appearance preferences. Gold fillings do not corrode and can last 10 or 15 years, or even longer. They are strong enough to withstand the force of chewing.
It is a good idea to space out gold and silver amalgam fillings so they do not touch each other in your mouth. This eliminates the pain of galvanic shock caused by a small electrical current produced in your saliva due to the chemical interaction between the two types of metal.
The three types of tooth-colored fillings are composite, ceramic and glass ionomer fillings. Ceramic fillings can last 15 years or longer. Glass ionomer fillings are a great option for children because they release fluoride, but they only last 5 to 7 years.
Composite fillings are the most common of the tooth-colored fillings. These fillings usually only last about 5 years or less. Yet, they are a versatile treatment for many dental problems. Many people also prefer the appearance of these natural-looking fillings. Be aware that if you have a tooth-colored composite filling, your visit will probably be longer than with silver fillings.
Silver amalgam fillings are made from an alloy of mercury and other metals such as silver, zinc or copper. Even though they contain mercury, the American Dental Association and the FDA agree that they are not harmful to your health.
Silver fillings are comparatively inexpensive and can last longer than 15 years. They are very strong and durable, as well. You might not like the looks of silver fillings, so we recommend you choose them only for back teeth. No matter what type of filling you choose, you need a qualified and experienced dentist to do this dental work for you.