What to Know About Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures anywhere in the country. But how much do you really know about cavity dental fillings? You likely know that they repair damaged teeth, but most people aren’t aware of the numerous materials fillings can be made from or the best ways to care for a completed filling. At the dental office of Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, we strive to educate our Phoenix, AZ patients about this commonplace procedure. Whether you have a decaying molar or a chipped tooth, we can provide the expert fillings you need.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are a tooth-colored material used to repair or restore one or more teeth. Essentially, dentists use this material to fill holes (cavities) created by damage and decay. Dr. Cavendish may recommend a filling to restore cracked teeth, chipped teeth, or worn-down teeth affected by bruxism.
Which Material Is Best?
Each material has its pros and cons—so which is best? The answer to that question depends on your specific dental condition. Some materials are better suited for cavities, while others are best used in cases of chipped teeth. The material you choose might also have something to do with your budget and insurance coverage. Whatever the case for you, rest assured that Dr. Cavendish will help you make the right choice. He and his team will evaluate your condition and recommend the appropriate material.
Types of Dental Filling Material
It might surprise some to learn that dental fillings can be made from a wide variety of materials. Over the years, dental experts have come up with new and better ways to address decayed and damaged teeth with fillings of different materials. Today, dentists might offer the following types of filling:
- Gold: Gold fillings are long-lasting and may be good for up to 15 years. However, as you might expect, gold tends to be more expensive than other materials.
- Silver Amalgam: Like gold, silver fillings are designed to last at least 10 to 15 years. Silver fillings have their drawbacks, though. Some patients report additional cracking, and these fillings might require the removal of more tooth than necessary.
- Ceramic: Another incredibly durable material, ceramic fillings usually last more than 15 years. They don’t stain easily, but that stain resistance can cost a pretty penny.
- Composite: With composite dental fillings, we can match your filling to the shade of the rest of your tooth. Composite resin is also excellent at bonding to the existing tooth and typically requires less of the tooth to be removed. However, composite fillings may only last five years and tend to be more expensive than amalgams.
Inlays and Onlays: Learn More About Indirect Fillings
Indirect fillings are created in a dental laboratory and take two visits to place. We recommend this type of filling for patients who do not have enough remaining tooth to support a filling. At your first visit, we’ll remove any decay and take an impression of the existing tooth. Then, the dental lab gets to work creating your indirect filling. At your second visit, we’ll place the filling and ensure it fits perfectly. Depending on your circumstances, we’ll recommend one of the following indirect fillings:
- Inlays: Inlays are placed entirely on the chewing surface of the tooth.
- Onlays: Onlays require more extensive work. They can cover multiple chewing surfaces and function similar to dental crowns.
Sometimes a Temporary Filling Is Necessary
Occasionally, a patient will require a temporary dental filling. These fillings are not meant to be durable, and they’ll eventually fall out or be removed by your dentist. Temporary fillings are typically used when a patient needs a permanent filling, but they must wait until a second appointment before the permanent one can be placed. Dr. Cavendish may recommend a temporary filling in these cases:
- Your filling cannot be completed in one appointment
- You need a root canal
- You require emergency dental care
- The pulp inside the tooth has become irritated
The Steps to a Perfect Filling
Dental fillings are incredibly common, so we have the process down to a science. At the office of Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, we want to make sure you understand the procedure before sitting down in the dentist’s chair. Fortunately, a dental filling doesn’t typically take up too much of your day. The procedure is quite simple and usually happens as follows:
- The affected area is numbed with a local anesthetic
- The decayed area is removed
- The remaining cavity is cleaned of any bacteria and debris
- The filling is inserted and polished*
*tooth-colored fillings may require additional steps
How Can I Protect My Teeth From Damage?
You might be wondering how you can avoid a dental filling in the first place. At the office of Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, we believe that prevention is the best way to maintain your oral health. Here are a few things you can do (or not do) to reduce your chances of tooth damage:
- Wear a mouth guard during sports practices and games
- Seek treatment for teeth grinding and clenching
- Minimize sugary drinks and sweets
- Avoid constant snacking
- Consider cutting down on coffee
- Don’t skip flossing
Caring for Your Fillings Is Vital
Your filling is finished—what next? We suggest keeping your fillings in good condition, so they last their maximum lifespan. Luckily, fillings don’t require any extra maintenance. Simply continue with your normal hygiene regimen and visit the dentist at least twice a year. Always brush with fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss! Should you have any problems with the filling, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
What to Know About the Dental Filling Cost
Many patients do not need to pay out of pocket for dental fillings. A typical dental insurance plan covers the cost of composite fillings up to the cost of a similar silver filling. Depending on the material you choose, you may owe part of the price. We always suggest reading up on your policy or calling your insurance provider before committing to a particular procedure. If you’re having trouble understanding your policy, our team would be glad to help in any way we can.
Get in Touch with Us to Learn More
There’s always more to learn about dental fillings. If you have a question or concern about the procedure, we encourage you to contact us. Dr. Cavendish and his team are dedicated to helping Phoenix residents maintain beautiful, healthy smiles. Let us know how we can help! Contact us today, and we’ll set up an appointment.