When a tooth is compromised by decay and/or cracks, the damaged tooth structure is removed and replaced by a filling, restoring the tooth back to its original shape and function. The dentist will numb the tooth and clean out the disease, leaving as much sound, natural tooth structure as possible. The cavity is disinfected and dried before a filling material is placed. Once the filing has set, the dentist will shape it to look and feel like your natural tooth, before checking to make sure your bite feels comfortable
There are several different materials that can be used and this will depend on the severity of decay in the tooth, the amount of healthy tooth structure remaining and the location of the tooth in your mouth.
- Amalgam – the silver mercury fillings that were placed in teeth by dentists prior to the development of more advanced technologies. Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. We do not use amalgam at WA Dental.
- Composite – most commonly used for fillings, composite resin is a white filling material that matches the shade of your tooth. The composite resin is applied directly to the prepared tooth and sculpted into the right shape. The material hardens and bonds to the tooth structure when it is activated with a blue light. The resin can be polished to a high shine, and fillings can be difficult to distinguish from natural teeth.
- Gold – inlays, onlays and crowns made from gold are the most expensive type of filling. Gold is a long lasting and durable option, however due to their appearance and cost, gold fillings are rarely used these days.
- Ceramic – veneers, crowns and bridges made from porcelain/ceramic are very strong and are therefore recommended for larger fillings and teeth with cracks. These restorations provide an excellent cosmetic result because the porcelain can be matched to the colour of the natural tooth.
When a filling has just been placed, it’s advisable not to eat or drink until the anaesthesia has worn off. This can take from one to three hours, or sometimes longer. It is quite normal for sensitivity to hot and cold drinks to occur for a few days after the procedure. Composite resin is completely cured by the time you leave the dental surgery. As soon as the anaesthetic has worn off, you are able to eat, chew and drink as normal.