Cavity Fillings: Types Of Fillings & What To Expect
Getting a cavity filling is a method dentists use to restore a tooth damaged by decay. This will return the tooth back to its normal shape and stop decay. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she will remove all of the decaying tooth, sanitize the area, then fill the cleaned out area back in with a filling material.
A filling will prevent further decay of that tooth by closing off the spots where bacteria can enter into the tooth. Some of the materials used in fillings includes porcelain, gold, a composite resin (which allows you to have a tooth colored filling), or amalgam.
What Should I Expect From My Tooth Filling?
Typically you can expect to be in your dentist’s office for about an hour when getting a filling. This will give the dentist enough time to take any x-rays (if needed), talk to you about what will be done, and then perform the required work. Before getting the filling, your dentist will sanitize and numb the area to minimize any discomfort. Next, the decay in your tooth will be drilled out and replaced with a filling.
Once the procedure is finished, your mouth will stay numb for the next couple hours. This is nothing to be alarmed about. While there aren’t any significant health risks to worry about when you get a filling, it’s always smart to have your dentist’s contact information ready just in case something does happen or you have a few questions.
The most common reason people get filling is to fix decay in their tooth (or teeth if there are multiple decay spots). However, fillings can also be used to repair broken teeth or even damage caused by grinding teeth.
Different Types Of Cavity Fillings
There are many different options available to pick from when choosing a material to have your filling done with. They all have their own pros and cons. The best filling for you and your situation will likely depend on the cost, what your insurance will cover, and your personal preferences.
The wide variety of materials that can be used for fillings varies in both strength and color. While the two most common materials used are amalgam and composite, here’s a breakdown of all of the materials that can be used.
- Amalgam – Amalgam has been being used by dentists for well over a century now. It’s also the most researched and well known material that’s used for a cavity filling. This type of filling is strong and the ideal choice for cavities on teeth in the back of the mouth, like your molars. However, since it’s made of a combination of metals, this filling can be noticeable when you talk or smile. However, they’re the least expensive option on this list.
- Composite – Sometimes referred to as a composite or resin, this filling is a combination of glass or quartz and is made to match the color of your teeth so everything looks natural. These fillings are fairly durable and are the ideal choice for small to medium sized cavity fillings in parts of the mouth that do moderate levels of chewing.
- Metals – Gold or silver are the most common types of metals used in a filling. While gold fillings can cost an upwards of 10x more than silver fillings, there are those who prefer the look of a gold filling over a silver filling. Metal fillings aren’t for everyone as there are a lot of people who don’t like how they look, but they’re durable and can last 10, or even 15 years before needing replaced.
- Ceramic – Getting a cavity filling that’s made out of ceramic is an attractive option because it’s tooth colored and will blend right in. It’s also less likely to show stains over the years than a composite filling is. However, you should know that a ceramic filling can be almost as expensive as a gold filling which eliminates it as an option for many people.
Take Care Of Your Teeth After A Cavity Filling
If you experience some discomfort in the first day or two after getting your filling, don’t be alarmed. This discomfort may include slight sensitivity to temperature and possibly some pain after the numbing wears off. It’s extremely important that you don’t neglect your oral care routine.
You should try some teeth cleaning products that are specifically designed for sensitive teeth. If you’re uncertain about what you should use, we recommend contacting your dentist and asking for a recommendation from him or her.