Fillings are a standard treatment for cavities. While fillings in the past required use of an unsightly amalgam of metals, dentists now use natural-looking composite resins and porcelains, greatly reducing the aesthetic impact. These materials are also largely safe for use in the mouth.

Types of fillings

There are several types of fillings available. Discuss with your dentist to determine which is best for you.

  • Gold fillings: Gold is very strong and does not corrode. Some people choose these fillings for their appearance, but they can be very expensive and require more sittings at the dental clinic than other options. Gold fillings last for 10-15 years.
  • Silver or Amalgam fillings: These traditional fillings do not match the tooth color and are most appropriate for large cavities. They last for 10-15 years.
  • Tooth-coloured composite fillings: This material closely matches the color of the tooth and is aesthetically pleasing. It bonds easily to the tooth and provides strong support. However, these fillings typically last only 5 years and are prone to chipping.

Procedure

The procedure for installing a filling is fairly straightforward. The dentist first numbs the area surrounding the tooth with a local anaesthetic. Using a drill or laser, the dentist removes the decay and cleans the cavity with water. Should the decay reach near to the roots, the dentist installs a composite resin or glass ionomer to protect the roots.

Once the area has been thoroughly cleaned, the filling material is applied in layers, and a dental curing light is used to harden the material. The filling material is then polished and trimmed for a natural look.

Maintenance

Dental fillings can be maintained using standard oral hygiene practices. Use fluoride-based toothpaste, and floss your teeth at least once a day. If your dental filling appears to be cracking and allowing food and saliva into the treated tooth or if you notice sensitivity, schedule an appointment with your dentist.