What is a tooth filling?

Tooth Fillings
Ken Nathan
03 Mar, 2020

A tooth filling is a process of filling cavities/tiny holes in your teeth caused by a variety factors, including:

  • Tooth decay due to poor diet, consuming a high amount of sugary drinks, not cleaning the teeth well etc.
  • Damaged or broken teeth caused by accidents, sports injuries or excessive chewing.
  • Teeth that are worn out due to bad habits like:
    • Nail-biting
    • Opening bottles with teeth
    • Teeth clenching & grinding
  • Having decay or getting cavities can happen to anyone but children, teenagers and older people tend to be more prone to cavities. Some symptoms of tooth decay or cavities include:
  • Regular toothache
  • Sudden pain in a tooth
  • Feeling pain when consuming hot or cold foods/drinks
  • Tiny holes visible to the naked eye
  • Stained or discoloured tooth

If you observe or face any of the above problems, you should immediately consult your dentist as delaying could cause symptoms to worsen and make any holes larger and may also affect other areas of your teeth. At times, tooth decay or cavities building up may not be visible in the initial stages so it’s advisable to have regular health check-ups with your dentist.

Is filling a tooth the same for everyone?

Any decay or cavity varies in severity and solutions depend on where in the mouth the problem is. There’s no one-size-fits-all type of filling and at N7 Dental your dentist will advise on the best type of filling needed on a cvase-by-case basis. You’ll receive a thorough check-up of your decayed or damaged teeth which may include any of the following:

  • Using explorer (a metal instrument)
  • X-rays
  • Lasers
  • Cavity detecting dyes

Tooth filling options

  • Silver Amalgam Fillings are the most common and affordable fillings available.
    • Pros:
      • The material includes a mixture of Silver, Mercury, Zinc, Copper & Tin all highly durable materials so your filling will be long-lasting
      • Fillings should last as long as 10 years or more
      • Provide good value when cost is taken into account
    • Cons:
      • Silver colour means fillings can be visible when speaking or smiling. For this reason they tend not to be used for teeth at front of the mouth.
      • Cracks can sometimes develop in the filling over time.
      • Patient allergy to materials.
  • Composite Filling (Plastic / Resin)
    • Pros:
      • Aesthetically pleasing as they can be matched to the teeth colour thus giving it a more natural look.
      • They bond well to the tooth structure.
      • They can also be used to repair broken or chipped teeth.
    • Cons:
      • Lower life span of 5-8 years as compared to 10+ years in the case of silver amalgamated filings.
      • Longer time in dental chair.
      • More expensive than silver fillings.
  • Gold Fillings:
    • Pros:
      • Strong, durable material.
      • Long-lasting – l15 years or more.
      • Aesthetics.
    • Cons:
      • Expensive.
      • May require more than 1 visit to the dentist.
      • Some patients prefer more natural-looking fillings.
  • Porcelain Fillings (Also known as Inlays / Onlays)
    • Pros:
      • They are custom made in a lab and then attached to the tooth.
      • Can be matched to the tooth colour.
      • Unlike part fillings, they cover the major part of the tooth.
    • Cons:
      • More expensive option
  • Temporary Fillings
    • There may be occasions when you need temporary fillings: when you need more than one visit e.g. gold filling; after root canal treatment or if you have severe toothache which may need to be taken care of first.
    • Temporary fillings are not permanent and would need to replaced as they don’t last long.

What’s involved in filling a tooth?

After a thorough dental check-up to find the exact location of the cavity/decay, the dentist will clean up of the affected area by removing the decayed part and then fill up the cavities with any of the filling materials, as described above.

Postoperative care

During the filling treatment, you would have been given local anaesthesia which causes part of your mouth to feel numb for a short period of time. During such time, you may face difficulty in eating or drinking. So, it’s advisable to avoid chewing on that side of the mouth.

Avoid consuming hot or cold drinks/food for a week or so as your teeth may feel sensitive due to the filling treatment.

How to avoid fillings?

Even though various treatments are available for tooth decay or cavities, prevention is alsways better than cure. The team at N7 Dental advise following the tips listed below.

  • Brush your teeth, twice a day
  • Always use toothpaste suggested by your dentist or hygienist
  • Change your toothbrush every 3 months
  • Get a regular dental check-ups
  • Consume less of acidic and sugary foods
  • Properly clean your mouth after every meal or drink to ensure no food particles are stick between your teeth

A simple oral care regime, as suggested above, will go a long way to maintain excellent oral hygiene.

If you are experiencing pain or see any kind of cavities in your teeth call us on 020 7609 1122 to fix an appointment today.

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