What are dental fillings?

A dental filling is a special substance that dentists use for filling in cavities (holes) in tooth enamel for teeth that have been damaged or decayed.

Fillings are most commonly used to treat tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs because of the presence of oral bacteria that create an acidic environment in the mouth. The acids created by the bacteria gradually eat away at the outer surface of the tooth called the tooth enamel.

The risk of leaving tooth decay untreated is that the bacteria can reach the inner part of the tooth called the dental pulp. An infection here can lead to the loss of the tooth. So a dental filling is used to prevent further damage to the tooth so that it can be saved.

Getting a Dental Filling

Prior to performing a dental filling procedure, your dentist will completely numb the treated tooth using a local anesthetic. In the case of tooth decay, your dentist will remove the tooth decay and completely clean and dry the area. They will then insert filling material into the resulting space to protect the area and prevent the return of a bacterial infection.

Tooth-Colored Dental Fillings

Composite resin is the material used in tooth-colored fillings. This is a malleable substance that is also commonly used in dental bonding procedures to conceal minor cracks and chips. Although it is commonly used for cosmetic reasons, it is also extremely versatile, making it a good replacement for other types of dental fillings when the patient wants their restoration to blend in with their surrounding teeth.

Regular fillings are normally composed of a combination of mercury, tin, copper and nickel. Instead, composite resin is made up of glass and plastic materials. Although it is not as strong as metal fillings, it is still able to restore teeth for a long time without leading to adverse events.

Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings

Blend in more easily than regular dental fillings
Less likely to provoke an allergic response

One drawback of traditional fillings is their appearance. When they are hit by light, they often produce a grayish color that is easily noticed. They also have a tendency to cause some patients a degree of teeth sensitivity over time. This is because metal can expand and contract somewhat from temperature fluctuations.

Getting Tooth-Colored Fillings

Following an examination and cleaning of your tooth, your dentist will carefully mix the composite resin until it closely mimics the shade and color of your current tooth. This way it should blend in very nicely once the material has hardened.

After selecting the correct shade, your tooth will be numbed, and the composite resin will be placed within your tooth. Next, it will be packed, shaped and molded for even distribution. It will also be etched to promote a strong resin bond. Finally, we will harden the resin with a special curing light.