Restorative Dental Care: What are dental fillings?
These dental restorations are used to improve the structure, function and appearance of a tooth that's been damaged or decayed, while also providing much-needed pain relief.
When are dental fillings recommended?
If you are experiencing tooth decay or cracks then your dentist may recommend dental fillings. They help restore functionality to your tooth and in some circumstances, dental fillings can be used to make cosmetic improvements to your smile.
The Signs That You May Need a Dental Filling
Although the only sure way to know if you need a dental filling is with an examination by your dentist, there are some signs that you can watch for. If you experience any of these, schedule an appointment with your dentist:
- You feel a sharp or throbbing pain in your tooth.
- When you examine your teeth, you see a hole or dark spot.
- Your tooth is broken or chipped.
- Your tooth feels rough to the touch.
- Food keeps getting stuck between certain teeth.
- An existing tooth filling has broken or cracked.
- You've lost a tooth filling and need a replacement.
The Material Choices For Dental Fillings
There are a number of materials that can be used for a dental filling, each with its own pros and cons for repairing a cavity or decay. Here, our dentists offer some advice on how to make the right dental choice for you.
Porcelain Fillings: Strength & Appearance
Also called inlays and onlays, porcelain fillings are brittle, hard, and made in combination with metal. Made in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist to place, these strong, dental fillings are most commonly used on molars due to their tooth-coloured appearance and resilience.
Porcelain dental fillings are commonly placed over two dentist appointments.
Composite Fillings: Natural Look & Feel
Composite dental fillings offer a strong option that is created to closely match the shade of your teeth.
These should look and feel much like your natural teeth making them a good option compared to silver fillings for people who would like less noticeable fillings.
Dentists like composites because they are easy to sculpt and shape onto a tooth, and bond naturally to a tooth. This means your dentist won’t need to remove as much existing enamel when preparing the tooth.
Your dentist will remove tooth decay and add bonding material to the inside of the hole so the filling can be placed. Composite resin is then layered in the hole.
A curing light is used to harden each layer. When the last layer of resin has hardened, the filling will be carefully shaped to match your natural teeth.
Gold Fillings: Long Lasting Durability
Cast gold fillings are made using a model of your tooth. Created from a mix of gold combined with other materials such as copper and silver, a cast gold filling is created in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist.
It will then be cemented in place inside your mouth. Though this type of filling is considered the most durable (typically lasting 20 years or more) it is also the most costly. You'll also require at least two dental appointments to have it placed.