Most people are familiar with the concept of using fillings to treat dental decay. What many don’t realize is what the various possibilities are and how a dentist determines which type of filling is the best choice. At Marsden Park Dental Centre in Logan, we offer you a variety of options.
Why Teeth Decay
Teeth can decay for a variety of reasons. A diet high in sugar or refined carbohydrates increases the risk, as does poor oral hygiene. Sometimes the position of the tooth is such that it is nearly impossible to keep it clean, which increases the risk of decay. Teeth that are very close together, for example, make flossing difficult. Smoking and alcohol abuse are habits that may make you more likely to develop decay. Some medications can depress the immune system or cause direct damage to teeth and gums.
The Purpose of Dental Fillings
Fillings replace the tooth enamel and pulp that are lost when teeth develop decay. A filling restores the normal tooth shape. Fillings also ensure proper function by mimicking the natural shape of the tooth. Your teeth must fit together properly to ensure that you are able to bite and chew foods. If the tooth surface is too high or low, it can affect the alignment of the entire jaw, increase tooth wear and even cause pain. Your dentist will make recommendations based on the extent of the repair, any allergies you may have, cost and where the filling will be located.
Types of Dental Fillings
Fillings are made from different materials and not all can be used interchangeably. They include:
- Amalgam fillings are mixtures of metals – usually silver and mercury. Used mostly for back teeth, they are very strong and durable.
- Composite fillings made from a mixture of very fine glass particles and a plastic material. They bond directly to the tooth, can be colour-matched and are even stronger than amalgam.
- Gold fillings are extremely durable and last much longer than any other kind of filling. However, they are the most expensive.
- Ceramic or porcelain fillings can be expensive, but they can be colour-matched to your natural teeth, are resistant to staining and have a much more natural sheen. Disadvantages – they are more brittle and as expensive as gold.
- Glass ionomer fillings are a mixture of acrylic and a compound of glass called fluoroaluminosilicate, Extremely strong, these types of fillings are used to fill baby teeth and teeth with extensive decay that extends below the gum line.
Dental Filling Procedures
A local anesthetic is used to reduce any pain during the procedure. The dentist drills out all the decayed area with a rotating metal drill or uses a laser for the same purpose. Next the space is shaped to ensure the filling will stay in place. Some types of fillings require a base or liner to protect the tooth root. A special cement may be used to secure the filling, whilst others adhere naturally and do not require cement. Resin fillings are hardened with a special light and may be built up in layers. Once the filling is in place, the dentist will finish and polish the tooth surface.