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Tooth Cavity Fillings: Types Of Fillings & What To Expect

Getting a tooth 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 (hopefully) stop further decay. When a dentist gives you a tooth cavity filling, he or she will remove all of the decaying parts of the tooth, sanitize the area, then fill the cleaned out area back in with a cavity filling material.

This 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 toothe cavity fillings include porcelain, gold, a composite resin (which allows you to have a tooth-colored filling), or amalgam.

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What Should I Expect From My New Tooth Cavity 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 standard tooth cavity 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, cavity fillings can also be used to repair broken teeth or even damage caused by grinding teeth.

Different Types Of Tooth Cavity Fillings

There are many different options available to pick from when choosing a material to have your tooth filling done with. They all have their own pros and cons. The best tooth cavity filling for you and your situation will likely depend on the cost, or what your insurance will cover, and your personal preferences.

The wide variety of materials that can be used for cavity 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 you could choose from:

  • 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 tooth 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 visible when you talk or smile. However, they’re the least expensive option in your list.
  • Composite – Sometimes referred to as a composite or resin, this tooth 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 tooth cavity fillings in parts of the mouth that are responsible for moderate levels of chewing.
  • Metals – Gold or silver are the safest and most common types of metals used in a filling. While gold fillings can cost an upwards of 10x more than silver fillings, there are many who prefer the look of a gold tooth 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 very durable and can last upwards of 10 to 15 years before needing replacing. The cost can swing dramatically due to the dentist’s office location and the current market value of precious metals chosen.
  • Ceramic – Getting a tooth cavity filling that’s made out of ceramic is an attractive option because it’s tooth-colored and will blend right in and look natural. It’s also less likely to show stains over the years than a composite filling is. However, you should know that a ceramic cavity 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 tooth cavity filling, don’t be alarmed. This discomfort may include a slight sensitivity to temperature and possibly some initial pain after the numbing wears off. It’s extremely important that you don’t neglect the oral care routine outlined by our dentist office.

You may want to 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.

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