What Are Dental Fillings?
Fillings are a common dental solution for repairing damage to teeth due to a cavity. Dental fillings do exactly what their name implies—they fill in the cavity. This is done to prevent further decay and damage to the tooth to avoid extraction.
Fillings are typically used in cases such as:
- Tooth decay that has created a hole in the tooth enamel but has not impacted the inner pulp where blood vessels and nerves are located
- Dental trauma resulting in a broken tooth that possibly makes the tooth vulnerable to decay
- To shore up ground-down or eroded teeth
Before a filling is performed, the dentist administers an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the gums surrounding the affected tooth. The tooth itself is then inspected to assess the needed repair. If there is evidence of decay, it has to be removed, usually by drilling, scraping out the decayed part, and dried. Filling material is then used to restore its shape and integrity; patients are asked to bite down afterward for the dentist to ensure that it provides a comfortable fit.
Types Of Dental Fillings
A variety of materials are commonly used to create dental fillings—each having its own unique characteristics. Here are just a few common ones.
Composite resin is a combination of glass particles and plastic resin and is often referred to as white, plastic, or tooth-colored fillings. These fillings replace the top of the teeth and often resemble the original enamel. They also release small amounts of fluoride to reduce the chance of additional decay.
Silver amalgam is a mixture of silver alloy and mercury that is frequently used for its strength and safety as it is approved by the WHO and Dental Federation as well.
Glass ionomer cement hardens on its own from glass, and organic acid, and is color matched to the color of your tooth.
Resin ionomer cement is similar to glass ionomer except the base is a polymer instead of glass. It cures to a solid state when exposed to blue light.
Porcelain may be used as a stain-resistant option that also is much stronger than composite fillings.
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