At Northstar Dental, we know that fillings are often a necessary part of dental care. About 175 million dental fillings are done each year in the US alone. Fillings help to restore teeth which may have been damaged by decay and can prevent future problems by closing the path for harmful bacteria. Other treatment may be needed if a very large part of the tooth has been affected, or if decay has reached the nerve, but this can be easily avoided with regular checkups.
By routinely examining your teeth, we can catch any tooth decay before it becomes a larger or more painful problem; this may be done with a variety of tools, including x-rays. After assessing the extent of the decay, we can determine what type of filling is best for you.
Types of Fillings
The type of filling used depends upon multiple factors, including the extent of repair needed, the location of the decay, and whether you have any allergies to the filling materials. The materials most commonly used are gold, porcelain, a composite resin, and amalgam, which is a type of metal alloy sometimes referred to as “silver” filling.
Gold and porcelain fillings are made to order, usually in a lab, and then bonded or cemented to the tooth. Porcelain fillings often called “inlays” or “onlays,” are generally used to cover large areas of the tooth and can be made to match the tooth’s natural color. Because they are made to order and later placed on the teeth, these types of fillings can require multiple visits. Amalgam and composite resin, on the other hand, are placed directly into the cavity where they quickly harden. Amalgam is a robust material, but because of its dark color is usually used in less visible areas of the mouth.
What to Expect
Before your procedure, local anesthesia will be administered around the tooth to be filled. Once the area is numb, a small drilling tool is used to remove all decay and shape the area for filling. For fillings like gold that require bonding, the tooth will be etched with small ridges to provide a better hold for the filling. The area is then thoroughly cleaned to remove any remaining debris or bacteria. Once the filling is applied, a special type of bright light may be used to help harden it. It is then polished to remove any rough edges and create a smooth appearance.
The Bottom Line
Regular checkups are a crucial part of dental health. While we hope your teeth do not experience decay, it is a very common occurrence, and early detection can be the difference between a small filling and major dental reconstruction. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the filling procedure, the materials we use, what to expect after getting a filling, and more. Please call our office at Northstar Dental at (303) 481-3901 to schedule a checkup or learn more.