When Are Fillings Needed?

When Are Fillings Needed?

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Tooth decay creates cavities or holes in tooth enamel. To stop the decay, the hole in the enamel must be filled. The filling also builds a barrier to prevent the nerves in the gums at the base of the tooth from being affected. If the nerve is exposed due to too much tooth decay, it can require a dentist to remove the tooth completely or take more drastic treatment measures than to simply do a filling. If you have tooth decay, the best thing to do is get a tooth filling as soon as possible.

Other than decay, fillings are used to repair broken teeth, as well. Teeth grinding can do a number on healthy teeth by wearing them down. Fillings are used to restore the structure of the teeth.  

How Are Fillings Done?

Before a cavity or tooth decay is addressed, the dentist will take an image of the tooth. An X-ray will reveal the extent of the decay, so the dentist can devise a treatment plan. A laser or an abrasion instrument will be used to drill and prepare the site that is going to get the filling. The dentist will also do a thorough cleaning of the area to ensure all bacteria, germs, food, and debris are removed. If this isn’t done correctly, you can develop further tooth decay and problems even after the filling is done. After these steps, the dentist will insert the filling material into the cavity. To perform a filling, your dentist will numb that area of your gums using a local anesthetic. You will have to refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours after getting a filling in order to give it time to set and harden.

What Are Fillings Made Of?

The most common materials for fillings are composite resin, ionomers, and conventional amalgams.

  • Conventional amalgams are made of metal materials, including gold, silver, and mercury. Fillings made of these materials are very strong and are most often used to fill deeper and larger cavities. They are especially useful in the back teeth, which require stronger materials for support when chewing.  
  • Composite resins are made of glass and quartz materials. Composite resins fill medium and small sized cavities, and unlike conventional amalgams that might be noticeable, composite resins aren’t obvious to the naked eye. Therefore, you can maintain a beautiful, white smile with them. 
  • Ionomers include acrylic acids, fine glass powder, acids, resins, and glass fillers. Ionomer fillings fill in the gaps in small cavities and areas surrounding the roots of teeth. They can be matched to the color of a patient’s teeth and are also useful for filling tiny spaces between teeth. Ionomer fillings aren’t as strong as composite resin or conventional amalgam fillings. They don’t respond as well to pressure from chewing, so they are best for teeth in the front of the mouth, which do not need much force when you eat. However, fluoride is released from ionomers, which helps to prevent decay for patients who are more susceptible to cavities. This is something composite and conventional fillers do not do.

If you need a filling, talk to your dentist about which material filling is best for you.

Dental Fillings in Henderson, Nevada

Dedicated Dental of Henderson is a family practice that addresses the dental needs of patients of all ages. If you are experiencing tooth pain that may indicate decay and the need of a filling, visit us today.

You may schedule an appointment by calling (702) 566-5509. You can also request an appointment online.