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How Do Dental Fillings Work? A Comprehensive Guide

How Do Dental Fillings Work? A Comprehensive Guide 

Cavities are fairly common. In fact, a study found that nearly 90% of adults have had decay in their teeth. But thanks to modern technology and expert dentists, there’s a very simple, safe and affordable treatment to restore normal functionality. 

Are you suffering from toothaches that resulted from cavities or decay on your teeth? The solution you’re looking for is a dental filling. Not sure what it is and want to know how dental fillings work? We got you!

A dental filling is a treatment used to restore the function, integrity, and morphology of missing tooth structures resulting from cavities or external trauma. In this dental procedure, a dentist places these fillings directly into the damaged tooth and hardens it to supplement the missing parts of the tooth.

Let’s dive deeper into how dental fillings work, their composition and how to take care of them.

What Dental Fillings Are Made Of?

There are a number of different materials used in the current market to make dental fillings. Let’s get into some of the most popular ones:

  1. Composite Resin

Composite resin is a white or tooth-coloured material that can be matched to the colour of your other teeth. This is one of the most popular dental fillings and is also commonly used for repairs other than cavity filling. It is bonded (glued) to your tooth, and a small amount of your old tooth is removed when getting a composite filling.

  1. Amalgam or Silver Amalgam

Dental amalgam, also widely known as silver amalgam, is a mixture of metals, including silver, copper, tin, mercury, and zinc. It is relatively less expensive than composite resin or gold fillings and has been used for more than a century. However, a bigger chunk of your tooth needs to be cut away to help the filling stay in place.

  1. Gold Fillings

As the name suggests, Gold filling is made from gold and is one of the most expensive dental fillings. Fortunately, it is also a very long-lasting filling material. However, this dental procedure often requires you to visit the dental clinic at least two times. Firstly, to get the right measurements of the tooth that needs a gold filling. And a second time to be fitted on your tooth, after your gold filling has been made in a dental laboratory.

  1. Ceramic or Porcelain Fillings

Ceramic or Porcelain fillings are another type of dental fillings that, like gold fillings, are made in a dental laboratory and can be matched to the colour of your other teeth. They are more resistant to staining than composite resin material.

  1. Glass-Ionomer Cement

And the last one on the list is Glass-ionomer cement. This isn’t as strong and long lasting as the ones mentioned above but is relatively inexpensive and is mostly used for fillings below the gum line. 

How Do Dental Fillings Work?

Keen to know how dental fillings actually work? Well, here’s a complete step-by-step process:

Step 1: Detection of Decay and Cavities

The detection of the presence of decay or cavities in your tooth can be through a routine check-up or when you go to a dentist because of pain or sensitivity. After the detection of a cavity, the dentist might schedule an appointment for the removal of the cavity.

Step 2: Removal of Decay and Cavities

The dentist uses a drill to remove the decayed parts of your tooth. This process does tend to cause pain, so dentists commonly use anaesthesia to numb that specific part of your mouth to minimise discomfort.

Step 3: Cleaning the Decay and Cavities

Once the decayed bits of your teeth have been removed, the dentist cleans the cavity. This is to make sure there are no bacteria or decayed bits left behind.

Step 4: Filling the Decay and Cavities

The dentist then fills the cavity with a suitable filling material, commonly one of the above-mentioned 5 types. The material is chosen based on several factors, including the location and size of the cavity, the patient’s medical history, and aesthetic preferences.

Step 5: Hardening the Dental Filling

The filling material is then hardened, often using a special light. This ensures the filling stays in place and can withstand the forces of biting and chewing.

Step 6: Polishing the Dental Filling

Finally, the dentist polishes the filled tooth to smooth out any rough edges and ensure the filling feels comfortable in the mouth. That’s it, and now your teeth are as good as new.

Taking Care of Dental Fillings

While these dental fillings can withstand many day-to-day chewing and biting activities, there are many instances when patients return with rough-looking dental fillings within just a few months. So, as a patient with dental fillings, you are also responsible for taking care of them. Here are some tips to help you take care of your dental fillings:

  1. Remember to brush and floss your teeth daily, including after meals and make sure to use a soft toothbrush with non-abrasive toothpaste.
  2. Control sugary and acidic foods and beverages that increase the risk of tooth decay.
  3. Avoid eating too hot or too cold food and beverages.
  4. If you’re feeling discomfort or sensitivity after getting your dental filling done, take medication as consulted by your dentist
  5. Always ensure that you have an even bite after a dental filling. If you feel the filled tooth contacting the other tooth first compared to the rest of the teeth, contact your dentist to get the corrections done.
  6. Get your teeth checked regularly with a dentist

Bonus content: When is Dental Pain an Emergency?

FAQs:

  1. Do dental fillings hurt?

Dental fillings are generally painless, but the level of discomfort can vary depending on these factors:

  • Size and depth of the cavity
  • Location of the cavity
  • Individual sensitivity

In most cases, a dentist will inject an anaesthetic to numb the specific parts of your mouth so you don’t feel pain or discomfort when the procedure is done. 

  1. How long do dental fillings last?

As for how long dental fillings last, it depends on the type of filling material used and the patient’s oral hygiene habits. In general, here are the average durations for different types of fillings:

  • Silver Amalgam Fillings: 15 years
  • Composite Fillings: 7 years
  • Ceramic Fillings: 15 years
  • Gold Fillings: 15 and 30 years
  1. Where can I find the best dental filling clinic in Surrey Hills?

Visit Dentists at Surrey Hills to get the best dental filling services. We provide a wide range of dental services including dental fillings, dental implants, RCT treatment, crowns and bridges, emergency services and more. 

  1. How much does a dental filling cost at a Dentist in Australia?

The cost of a dental filling also depends on several factors like the type of filling, the complexity of the procedure, and the dentist’s fees. However, if you’re going for a simple silver amalgam dental filling in Australia, it can cost around $200- $350. However, this is simply an average and the actual cost of your dental filling procedure can vary greatly. 

Bonus Content: How much do dental implants cost in Australia?

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