Teeth are the hardest substance in our body. Unfortunately, they also decay and become prone to damage, over time. The strong tooth enamel once broken cannot be repaired or healed by the body naturally. Holes or cracks in the teeth are caused by various reasons. One of the major reasons is cavities caused by bacteria and plaque formation. Injury to the tooth enamel can lead to pain, difficulty in chewing and eating, and sensitivity to certain food items. To cure these problems, use of dental fillings is an effective way, without having to remove the entire tooth.
Dentists clean or remove the decayed area on the tooth and then fill the gap or cavity with required materials. Dental fillings can be used on teeth which are broken or cracked due to physical injury also.
TYPES OF DENTAL FILLINGS
Dental fillings are available in various materials. Patients can also choose the fillings according to their preference.
- Cast Gold: This strong and expensive filling does not corrode and last longer. In rare cases, a sharp pain may occur if it is fitted besides a silver amalgam filling.
- Amalgam Fillings: It is a mixture of various metals like silver, mercury, tin, copper and zinc. It is less expensive than other fillings, but durable and stronger than the composite fillings. As it is an amalgam of metals, the degree of expansion and contraction is wider leading to cracks and fractures. Most of the patients don’t prefer metal fillings as it is easily noticeable and doesn’t resemble the colour of other teeth. Another drawback of this filling is that the healthy part of the teeth needs to be trimmed, as it requires a larger area to be fixed.
- Composite fillings: These fillings have clay like consistency and resemble the natural tooth colour and shape. It’s a composite resin filling which needs to be hardened by a blue light. This process is known as ‘curing’. It is more expensive than the amalgam filling but it can chip off or wear down faster and need to be replaced.
- Other fillings: Ceramics (made of porcelain) and glass ionomer (made of acrylic and a type of glass material) are also used. Ceramics are resistant to stains and more durable than composite fillings, while glass ionomers are weaker fillings, mostly used below the gum line or in children.
There are also temporary fillings that last for only a month. They are used in between appointments for permanent fillings, or following a root canal, or sometimes to address a cavity with a toothache.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE OF DENTAL FILLING?
After the dentist examines the nature of the problem, discuss with the doctor the type of filling to be used. A local anaesthesia can be given before starting the procedure. The cavity is cleaned and any decay material and bacteria is completely removed. Depending on the filling to be used, some part of the tooth may be trimmed off to create space for the filling. Composite filling is done by putting one layer at a time and curing it with the blue light hardening each layer. Once the fillings are placed, the excess is trimmed off and lastly polished.
One needs to take care of the fillings by following a good oral hygiene and immediately inform the dentist if any pain or loosening of the filling is experienced. Consult a dentist to understand which dental filling is best suited for you.