What is a filling?
A dental filling is any material used to replace part of your natural tooth to that it looks and acts like a normal tooth again.
This material is also sometimes used to stabilize a tooth prior to placing a crown over top. This type of filling is called a “core buildup”.
Why would I want a filling?
Typically fillings are done after a contaminated part of your tooth (a cavity) is removed. When we can, we try to perform fillings since they are one of the simplest and most minimally invasive ways to treat dental disease or broken teeth.
See our page on What are tooth cavities? to learn more about cavities.
How does it work?
The first step to any filling is to completely remove the dental cavity and cleanse the area to remove any bacteria that may be present. Once that process is complete, a series of dental materials are used to clean and bond the inside surface.
Once the filling is ready to be placed, a soft tooth colored material is pressed into the space and a bright blue light is used to make the material hard enough to chew on.
We clean up the edges of the filling and then check to make sure the filling feels like your natural tooth whenever you bite together.
Typically you can resume normal chewing and at home hygiene immediately afterwards. Any time we do a filling, the tooth itself may be sensitive to temperatures and to biting for up to a week.
Fillings were traditionally done with a material called amalgam, which is a mix of metals, mercury, and other substances that help bind and strengthen the filling.
One advantage of amalgam is its strength, but there are also numerous disadvantages:
- They are so strong, that they can act as a wedge on the tooth and your tooth can start to fracture over time as a result
- They do not chemically bond to the tooth, meaning that more tooth must be taken away for an amalgam filling to work
- Since they don’t bond, amalgam limits the different ways in which a tooth can be restored
- There are environmental concerns with having fillings containing mercury
For these reasons, I only perform composite fillings here at NorthStar Dental. We have an assortment of shades and colors to math your tooth so your filling will blend with your natural tooth structure. Since we can bond composite, I only have to drill away the area of your cavity, meaning less tooth is removed in this process than the old amalgam fillings.
Composite technology has come a long way in the last 30 years and the materials on the market today lead to outstanding results with beautiful esthetics and unmatched strength. These filling can also be placed more quickly, meaning less time in the chair for you!
We also utilize cutting edge bonding material to hold your fillings and crowns in place. From a company you know and trust, 3M, Scotchbond Universal has desensitizer built into it meaning far less sensitivity.