Fillings are essential for your oral health. If you have a cavity, you need to get a filling right away to keep your smile healthy and prevent further complications. If your cavity is left untreated in Bluffton, it can easily progress into a tooth infection, which may require treatment with root canal therapy. Contact us now to get an appointment from Dr. Joel Darrah at Buckwalter Dental Care, or learn more about fillings and cavities below.
Types of Dental Fillings
Wondering what types of dental fillings are available? Most dentists offer a variety of different fillings materials, which can include:
- Metal-amalgam – These fillings use a blend of silver, mercury, tin, and copper to fill your tooth. They are durable and strong, but they look unnatural and result in a grayish tint to your tooth, so they are not very popular.
- Composite – Composite or “tooth-colored” fillings use a tooth-colored blend of crushed glass and dental resin. These fillings are very durable and long-lasting, and also look and feel just like a natural part of your tooth.
- Glass-ionomer cement (GIC) – This type of special glass is typically used for smaller cavities, and is not usually the best choice for extensive fillings, but offers great durability and longevity when used to treat smaller cavities.
Do I Need A Fillings If I Have A Cavity?
In most cases, a filling is the best choice for restoring your smile if you have a cavity. However, if the cavity is particularly large and extensive, a filling may not be a good choice. Very large fillings tend to weaken your tooth structure, which can lead to future complications and damage to your teeth.
So if you have a very large cavity, Dr. Darrah will typically recommend that you get a dental crown instead. Crowns cover up and protect the entire tooth all the way down to the gum line, so they are better suited to treating large, extensive cavities.
What is the filling process like?
The entire process usually takes just 30-60 minutes at Buckwalter Dental Care. Dr. Joel Darrah will begin by cleaning your mouth and numbing the treatment area. You can also be sedated for your comfort, if you want.
Then, Dr. Darrah will drill away some of the enamel from your tooth to prepare it for your filling. Once the cavity has been cleaned and prepared, he will apply the filling material to your cavity layer-by-layer, hardening and adjusting the filling as it’s built.
Once the overall shape is right and the cavity has been filled, Dr. Darrah will check the fit and placement of the filling, and trim it to make any necessary adjustments. This ensures that your bite is not affected by your newly-filled tooth.
Will it hurt to get a filling?
No. The filling process is minimally-invasive and totally pain-free at Buckwalter Dental Care. Your tooth may feel slightly sore and tender for a day or two after your treatment, but the filling procedure itself will not cause you any pain or discomfort.
How long do fillings last?
How long your fillings will last depends on a few factors such as:
- The material your filling is made from
- How well you maintain & clean them
- The complexity of your treatment
- If you grind your teeth
- Size of the filling
- If you need additional dental work
Silver amalgam fillings have the longest lifespan, as they are incredibly durable and strong, you can expect them to last for 10-15 years. However, their silver appearance makes them stand out and look unappealing, so these are usually reserved for teeth that are not visible when you smile.
The much more aesthetically appealing composite resin fillings, which match the color of your natural teeth, do not last as long as amalgam fillings. They last between 5-10 years, but they are the most popularly used filling.
Finally, glass ionomer cement fillings last for 5 years or less, which is why they’re best to be used only for very small cavities.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused by a combination of conditions in the mouth, such as bacteria, starch, sugar, and acids. Bacteria feed on starch and sugar food particles left behind in the mouth, and produce acids. These acids lead to the formation of plaque buildup which contributes to decay in the mouth.
Poor oral hygiene puts you at increased risk for cavities because leftover food particles in the mouth are a breeding ground for bacteria to turn into acids which cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. Inadequate saliva and fluoride can also contribute to tooth decay.
Which filling am I a good candidate for?
Which fillings are best for you depends on your priorities, your means, and which tooth you need to be filled. If the tooth you are getting filled is visible when you smile, then composite resin fillings are the best option, as they are tooth-colored and look just like authentic teeth.
If you are getting a molar in the back of your mouth filled, then an amalgam filling may be more desirable, as these last longer and are more durable, since they are made of metal materials. This filling is also the most affordable and covered by insurance, whereas composite resin fillings may only be covered by insurance if it is a visible tooth when you smile.
If you have a very small cavity that needs a minor filling, then a glass ionomer cement filling is the best for this. These are ideal for milk teeth in children and they release fluoride which prevents decay.
Schedule your next filling at Buckwalter Dental Care
Fillings are used to fill cavities in the tooth, also known as holes in the enamel. There are a variety of materials that dental fillings can be made of, ranging from amalgam silver, tooth-colored composite resin, and glass-ionomer cement and they can last anywhere from 5-12 years before needing to be replaced.
If you need a filling, contact us at Buckwalter Dental Care to find out which filling would be most suitable for you. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Darrah today and say goodbye to cavities and hello to your fully restored tooth.