Dental fillings are artificial materials that are placed inside cavities of your teeth in order to restore the original shape, form and function of these teeth.They are referred to as restorations.
When your teeth become affected by decay, wear or are fractured, you have to go to your dentist in order to fix them. After numbing, the dentist drills into your teeth with a device called the hand-piece (the dentist’s drill) in order to remove the decay or fractured part, and prepare the tooth to receive the dental filling. The result is a drilled “hole” in your tooth, that is called a cavity.
What are the types of dental fillings?
Dental fillings have developed greatly over the years. At one point in time, dentists actually used gold shavings as a way to restore teeth. These days, there are three types of dental fillings that are commonly used:
Dental amalgam: These are the silver fillings that you most probably have seen or been treated with in the past. Its use is regressing and modern dentists rarely use them.
Dental Composite: Which is the white or tooth-colored filling, and currently the most commonly used filling.
Glass Ionomer: Which is also a white-colored filling, but more dull and not the same color as the tooth.
What Are Dental Fillings made from and how do they react to bind to the tooth?
The old dental amalgam was a mixture of silver, tin, copper and mercury. All these components are mixed together to create a gel-like ball of the filling, which is then adapted to the shape of the cavity and the excess is removed later.
Dental Composite is a kind of plastic which consists of two parts: a liquid part (called the resin) and solid part (called the filler). They come in the shape of a tube, which is placed in the cavity and hardened by a special type of light-emitting device. Before placing the filling, the tooth has to be treated with an acidic gel, and coated by a layer that facilitates its binding to the tooth, called the dental bond.
Glass Ionomer fillings are also a kind of plastic. However, they contain similar material to that of the tooth, and therefore they react chemically with the tooth and binds to it chemically. They also release fluoride, making them a source of rebuilding the lost tooth structure.
Which Type of Filling is suitable for me?
The choice of the type of filling is usually up to the dentist, or more accurately, to the case. The type and shape of the cavity is usually the main determinant.
Cavities of the front teeth, which are visible if you smile, have to be invisible and blended with the remaining tooth structure and color. Here the dentist would use dental composite or tooth colored filling.
Extremely deep cavities, which are very close to the nerve (or Pulp) of the tooth, require a restoration with soothing and rebuilding capabilities, that is Glass Ionomer Restorations.
Examples of cases are numerous. However, composite fillings have developed greatly over the years to address nearly every issue, therefore it is the type that most dentists use for all types of restorations.
What Happens if I don’t have my decayed teeth repaired?
Your Dentist will always advise you to treat the decay early, as the consequences of waiting are dire. If the decay is allowed to spread, it could result in the nerve (or pulp) getting infected with bacteria, which as you probably know is severely painful. Also, the tooth becomes very weak, and very liable to fracture. If the decay or fracture reaches a specific level of the tooth, this tooth is rendered unrestorable and has to be extracted.That’s why it’s very much recommended to fix your teeth as soon as you can, to avoid any complications that may arise.