What Is a Dental Filling?

Dental fillings belong to a category of oral treatments known as dental restoration. Within the same category, one may also find dental bonding, bridges, crowns, inlays, onlays, and dentures. In some cases, these different elements can be used simultaneously. The term dental fillings refer to a procedure that employs substitutive material to repair the structure and function of damaged teeth. What dentists do in such contexts is basically to replace the compromised or missing tooth parts with specifically designed artificial equivalents. 

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Dental fillings are one of the most effective solutions for dental restoration. Relatively easy to implement, they eradicate common oral health problems and offer long-term protection.

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    Typology and Characteristics of Dental Fillings

    The classification is mostly based on the type of material being utilized. Several alternatives are possible, depending above all on the patient’s level of tolerance (e.g., absence or presence of allergies). The severity of the decay is also a considerable determinant. Other variables include the costs of the service and the extent of insurance coverage.

    Amalgam fillings: Also known as silver fillings, these are usually made of a mixture of silver, liquid mercury, copper, tin, and zinc. Their main advantages are their affordability and durability. As for the disadvantages, these include unaesthetic looks, higher risks of cracks, possible damage (e.g., discoloration) to the surrounding teeth.

    Cast gold fillings: These are more expensive models but able to go a long way. Although not as popular as before, they are still a premium choice according to some patients in terms of aesthetics. The downside is that they usually don’t get on well with other metals and can provoke a galvanic shock.

    Composite fillings: As suggested by their name, these fillings are made of mixed material. Among the commonly used components, we notice acrylic resin, glass, and quartz. Thanks to their tooth-colored appearance, they are a very natural-looking alternative. They also bond well to the original tooth structure. The only disadvantage is that they necessitate a longer treatment/placement time and may wear out faster than other models.

    Porcelain fillings: This is another solid and durable option (up to 15-20 years). Porcelain fillings also offer a natural look and resist well to staining. They are however more expensive than amalgam and composite models.

    Glass ionomer fillings: These are a mixture of glass and acrylic. They are mostly used as temporary fillings and for children. Their cement comprises silicate glass powder, a substance capable of releasing fluoride. This ensures additional protection for the surrounding teeth. 

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    The procedure itself is relatively short and easy. First, a local anesthetic is applied to the patient. Then the dentist can start drilling the compromised area. The filling material usually comes in a paste form, adaptable to the shape of the cavity. It is placed layer after layer so that the dentist can follow the progression. Once the placement is done, the dentist polishes the filling and makes the final adjustments. 

    What is described here is a prototype of the intervention. One should keep in mind that there may be variations depending on the type of issue (sensitivity, coronal cavities, root cavities, etc.). This can notably affect the amount of time required and the number of visits.

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    FAQs about Dental Fillings

    Can dental fillings weaken my teeth?

    No, it would rather be the contrary. As they bond to the teeth, they provide them with additional support and reinforcement.

    Will dental fillings make my teeth more sensitive?

    As long as the treatment is done properly, dental fillings should not cause any additional or disturbing sensitivity.

    Is it true that dental fillings cause bad breath?

    No, not necessarily. Bad breath rather results from the presence of bacteria in the oral cavity.
    However, if you notice an abnormal change after getting your fillings, please consult your dentist for further clarification.