Dental fillings are restorations that are used to restore the structure, function and appearance of a damaged tooth, which will strengthen the tooth and relieve the pain that you may have been experiencing.
The Uses of Dental Fillings
If you have a damaged or cracked tooth or are suffering from dental decay then a dental filling may be able to help repair your tooth. They help restore functionality to your tooth and in some circumstances, dental fillings can be used to make cosmetic improvements to your smile.
Signs That You Need a Dental Filling
Your dentist will be able to definitively say whether or not you need a dental filling, but here are some signs that you may have a cavity that requires restorative care. If you experience any of these, contact your dentist to request an appointment:
- You feel a sharp or throbbing pain in your tooth.
- When you examine your teeth, you see a hole or dark spot.
- Your tooth is broken or chipped.
- Your tooth feels rough to the touch.
- Food keeps getting stuck between certain teeth.
- An existing tooth filling has broken or cracked.
- You've lost a tooth filling and need a replacement.
The Materials That Make Up Dental Fillings
Dental fillings can be made of a number of materials, from amalgam to composite, porcelain and gold. While each of these materials is safe and long-lasting, they also each have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to repairing a cavity or decay.
Here, our dentists talk about the various types of fillings, what they are made of and how each of them may benefit you:
Porcelain Fillings for Strength & Appearance
Also called inlays and onlays, porcelain fillings are brittle, hard, and made in combination with metal. Made in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist to place, these strong, tooth-coloured dental restorations are typically used on molars as they are more durable and longer lasting than a regular dental filling.
Porcelain fillings can take up to two dental visits to be placed in your mouth.
Composite Fillings for a Natural Look & Feel
Composite dental fillings are able to blend in with your natural teeth thanks to their specific colour and texture.
They look and feel natural, and are popular with patients who are concerned with how amalgam (grey) fillings may appear on teeth that are visible when they smile.
Dentists like composites because they are easy to sculpt and shape onto a tooth, and bond naturally to a tooth. This allows for the minimal removal of your own tooth's surface.
Your dentist will remove tooth decay and add bonding material to the inside of the hole so the filling can be placed. Composite resin is then layered in the hole.
Your dentist will use a special curing light to then harden the filling. When the last layer of resin has hardened, the filling will be carefully shaped to match your natural teeth.
Gold Fillings for Durability
Cast gold fillings are made using a model of your tooth. Created from a mix of gold combined with other materials such as copper and silver, a cast gold filling is created in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist.
It will then be cemented in place inside your mouth. Though this type of filling is considered the most durable (typically lasting 20 years or more) it is also the most costly. You'll also require at least two dental appointments to have it placed.