Tooth fillings 101: What Illinois dental patients should know
Why fillings are important
Tooth fillings are among the simplest and most common dental restorations. They are used to repair cavities, and prevent the spread of tooth decay. You might not pay a great deal of attention to cavities unless they affect the appearance of your smile, or become painful. Unfortunately, ignoring them will only lead to bigger, and eventually painful, problems.
Tooth decay is a progressive disease, and once it begins it will continue chewing away at the layers of enamel, dentin, and eventually reach the soft dental pulp. Fillings relieve the pain and sensitivity of deep cavities, because they replace the missing tooth material. Even more importantly, they stop the progression of decay by sealing out harmful plaque and bacteria.
Types of fillings
- Gold – This is the strongest and the most expensive filling material. It is gentle on your gums and tooth tissue, and may last longer than alternatives. However, gold fillings are unpopular due to cosmetic concerns and cost.
- Silver (amalgam) – This is the least expensive material, and nearly as strong as gold. However, it may not be as gentle to the teeth and gums. It is not commonly used for visible cavities because it tends to darken, becoming nearly black over time. Additionally, a failed amalgam filling can darken the surrounding tooth.
- Composite resin – This is by far the most popular filling material today. It is slightly more expensive than silver, but much less expensive than gold. Even more important to many image-conscious patients, composite can be colored to match the surrounding tooth enamel perfectly, for a healthy, natural looking result.
- Porcelain – This option is nearly as pricey as gold, but it offers the combined benefits of strength and a natural appearance. Porcelain fillings, also called inlays, are long lasting and stain resistant.
The process is gentle, and it is completed in just a few simple steps:
- First, Dr. Dietrich will examine the tooth to determine if a filling is the best solution. If the decay is severe, a crown and possibly a root canal procedure may be needed.
- The tooth is numbed to ensure your comfort.
- All damaged and diseased tooth material is removed.
- Lastly, the filling is placed. The exact process will vary slightly, depending on the material used. However, it is generally done during the same appointment with the exception of gold or porcelain fillings, which are created in a dental lab.
If you have a cavity, we have a solution. Pleasant Dental® is located in Dolton, Illinois, providing quality dental care to residents throughout the area. Call us at (708) 576-1900 and schedule your appointment today.
Share this article
Back to Dental Library Page