What are Dental Fillings?
Tooth fillings are one of the most basic methods of restoring teeth. They do exactly what their name suggests — they fill holes that appear in the teeth. These small holes, or cavities, are caused by decay, which usually happens when harmful bacteria in the mouth produce acids that target tooth enamel. This is a natural process when we eat or drink, but frequent exposure to these acids may cause decay that when left untreated, may lead to pain, infection or even tooth loss.
Our job is to stop decay from progressing and reverse it if possible. Tooth fillings play an important role in helping us prolong the life of teeth that have been damaged by minor decay.
There are two main types of tooth fillings, amalgam and composite. You’re likely familiar with the traditional silver-grey amalgam fillings — they do a great job, but they are quite visible. At Southview Dental Care, we prefer composite, the more modern tooth-coloured dental fillings.
Tooth-Coloured Dental Fillings for a Natural-Looking Smile
Tooth-coloured, or composite, fillings are virtually invisible. The only people that will know your composite fillings exist are you and our dental team. The latest composite filling materials are strong and long-lasting, and they can be blended to provide a virtually perfect colour match to your natural teeth.
Composite fillings also have other advantages over amalgam ones. They do not require as much of the natural tooth material to be removed before placing them, and because they are bonded to your tooth, they make it stronger.
How We Place Tooth Fillings
We aim to place dental fillings immediately after diagnosing tooth decay. The longer decay is left, the more time it has to progress, and we want to minimise the damage to your teeth by acting fast. Because of that we aim to provide preventative dentistry to minimise decay and gum disease.
Modern techniques make getting a dental filling virtually pain free. For your comfort, we usually numb the area around the tooth with a local anaesthetic, and then clean out the decayed material from the tooth.
Once the decay has been removed and the area cleaned, the dentist will fill the hole with composite. The tooth-coloured composite material is added in layers. The dentist shines a special ultraviolet light after each application to speed up the setting process and harden each layer. During this process, the dentist moulds the cavity filling, so it’s the right shape for your tooth.
Aftercare for a Composite Tooth Filling
It takes a few hours for the numbing of the local anaesthetic to wear off. That said, please be cautious if you are eating or drinking after receiving a cavity filling, as you may accidentally bite your cheek or tongue. We advise you to avoid hot food and drinks until the sensation wears off completely to avoid the risk of burning your mouth without realising.
Preventative care is the best way to try and avoid tooth decay in the future. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth and around the gumline, and cutting down on the amount of sugary foods you consume. We recommend regular check-ups where our hygienists and dentists can treat any troublesome areas, and help advise on proper oral healthcare cleaning techniques.
Replacing Amalgam Cavity Fillings with Composite Fillings
Patients often ask us whether it’s a good idea to replace amalgam tooth fillings with white ones. We usually advise against this if it’s simply a matter of how they look. However, if an old amalgam dental filling needs replacing, for example, if it is cracked or there is more decay, then it may be worth replacing the silver filling with a composite filling.
If you would like to know more about changing to white dental fillings, please ask next time you visit us. We’re happy to discuss how we can help you achieve your dream smile.
Think You May Have Tooth Decay?
Whenever you have concerns about the health of your teeth, we want to hear about it. It’s always in your best interest to treat dental issues as soon as possible — time only makes problems more difficult and more expensive to treat.
We hope we have answered all your questions about tooth fillings, but if there is anything else you would like to know please get in touch. Our friendly and helpful staff are here to assist you with all your dental needs.
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