What are dental fillings?
Dental fillings are used to treat cavity in teeth from decay. Dental fillings are also used to repair chipped or broken teeth caused by trauma, nail biting or teeth grinding. Their main benefits are to restore function and the appearance of teeth.
What is the procedure like?
Your dentist may take an X-ray to determine the shape and size of your cavity. From there, he/she will advise a suitable dental filling material. During the procedure, dental anaesthesia will be applied to numb the tooth. Following which, decayed tooth material is removed and the affected area clean. Then, filling material is placed and shaped to form the tooth.
The entire procedure lasts about 15 minutes for small cavities and 1 hour for larger cavities.
What are the types of dental fillings?
Amalgam fillings are made from a combination of metals such as silver, mercury, tin and copper.
Benefits: They are less costly, last longer (more than 10 years) and stronger than other filling materials. They are also very kind to the gums.
Limitations: The colour does not match the teeth, they can corrode or tarnish over time.
Composite Resin Fillings (Tooth Coloured)
Composite resin fillings are a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles. They are the most popular filling of choice as they blend in well with surrounding teeth.
Benefits: They can match your tooth colour closely and less trimming of the tooth is required as compared to amalgam fillings.
Limitations: They do not last as long (5-8 years), are more expensive and not as durable as amalgam fillings.
Glass Lonomer Fillings
Glass monomer fillings are usually used on baby teeth, non-biting surfaces of the teeth and small fillings.
Benefits: They normally require less drilling of the teeth and there is a constant leaching of fluoride into the tooth surface which will reduce sensitivity and protect against further decay.
Limitations: They are not as strong as the other options.
Inlays and Onlays are custom made and prepared using dental impressions. Inlays are fitted into large cavities, while inlays replace missing tooth cusps.
Thanks to modern technology, dental impressions can now be done digitally through CEREC. CEREC is a unique computer aided design system that captures photographic images of your teeth and cavities to create custom made fillings.
Benefits: These provide a very hard and durable surface for eating. They are potentially the longest lasting fillings.
Limitations: They are the most expensive filling option.
How long do fillings last?
Fillings which are well taken care of and well done can last many years or even a lifetime under regular professional care. This is why it’s important to go for regular dental checkups and maintain a good oral health regime for healthy teeth and gums.
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