Fillings are the most common procedure performed in a dental office. It is the restoration of function and aesthetics using various filling materials. Simply put, it is the treatment of cavities (also called caries, or decay) by removing the decay and filling the cavity with filling materials.
Depending on the complexity of the situation, the treatment can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. Before starting the treatment, the tooth is usually numbed using local anaesthetics. When the tooth is insensitive, it is cleaned using a bur and prepared for filling. Afterwards, the tooth structure is restored using the selected filling material.
The tooth needs to be filled when it is damaged (by decay, or caries). At first sight it might look like a dark spot on the tooth surface. On better inspection, a larger or smaller cavity may be identified.
Cavities between the teeth (interdental) can only be spotted on dental X-rays. However, not every dark spot is decay which should be cleaned and filled.
Additionally, fillings are used to give a more attractive shape to heavily worn or misshapen teeth. They are commonly called cosmetic fillings.
Yes, it is recommended to eat before the procedure. During the procedure it is vital to isolate the tooth from saliva and humidity, and if a person is full, less saliva is produced.
Light-cured composite is set instantly, amalgam sets in about an hour after the procedure. Usually anaesthesia is used for the procedure and the cheek or lip might be numb. It is not recommended to eat before the numbness passes in order not to bite your cheeks or lip.
It is impossible to accurately tell how long a filling will last. It depends on many factors: patient’s oral hygiene habits, size of the cavity, skill of the clinician, filling material, diet, etc.
Usually a light-cured composite filling lasts 7-8 years. Over time the filling wears down. It is recommended to replace a leaking filling (one that has a microscopic gap between the tooth and the filling).
TStudies show that amalgam fillings in molar teeth last longer than light-cured composite fillings. The main drawback is the colour. It differs from the natural tooth. Note that the highest quality composites properties and durability closely matches those of amalgams, but at a higher cost.
GI fillings have a great advantage – they release fluoride and increase fluoride concentration in the saliva. Such saliva strengthens permanent teeth and keep them healthy.
GI fillings also are resistant to humidity, which sometimes cannot be avoided filling children’s teeth. The disadvantage of GI fillings is they are not very long-lasting.
When a cavity is too big to be filled properly, a crown is recommended.
Friend of your teeth, Amicus Dentis