Dental fillings are a common solution to restore teeth affected by decay or minor fractures. Here's what you need to know about this essential dental procedure.
Why might I need a dental filling?
Dental fillings are primarily used to treat cavities caused by tooth decay. They can also repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down over time, such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding.
What materials are used for dental fillings?
Various materials can be used for dental fillings, including:
- Amalgam (silver) fillings: Durable and long-lasting.
- Composite (plastic/resin) fillings: Match the color of your teeth for a more natural appearance. Ideal for cosmetic dentistry.
- Porcelain fillings: Resistant to staining and can be matched to the color of your tooth. Often used in smile makeovers.
- Gold fillings: Highly durable and compatible with gum tissues.
How is the procedure performed?
First, the affected area is numbed for comfort. The decayed or damaged portion of the tooth is then removed, and the area is cleaned. The filling material is then applied in layers, with each layer being hardened or cured with a special light. Once all layers are in place, the filling is shaped to fit the tooth, and any excess material is trimmed off. Regular dental cleanings can help maintain the health of filled teeth.
How long do dental fillings last?
The lifespan of a dental filling depends on the material used, your oral care habits, and regular dental check-ups. With proper care, amalgam fillings can last 10-15 years, while composite fillings typically last 5-7 years.