To treat a cavity your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then "fill" the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).
What Steps Are Involved in Filling a Tooth?
First, we will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. Next, a drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser will be used to remove the decayed area. The choice of instrument depends on the individual comfort level, training, and investment in the particular piece of equipment as well as location and extent of the decay.
Next, we will probe or test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed. Once the decay has been removed, we will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve.
Several additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings and are as follows. After removel the decay and cleaned the area, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers. Next, a special light that "cures" or hardens each layer is applied. When the multilayering process is completed, we will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.
What are composite fillings?
Composite fillings have a more natural appearance than other options. The composite material can be customized to match the shade of your tooth, so they’re almost unnoticeable to anyone who glances at your mouth.
But what is that tooth-colored material? It’s a mixture of plastic (acrylic) resin that’s reinforced with a powdered glass filler. It’s useful for a variety of dental restorations, including
Dentists also sometimes use this composite resin material to repair or restore parts of broken or chipped teeth.
Other filling materials
We may offer several choices when it comes to materials for a filling. Here’s how they stack up against each other.
These were the most commonly used type of filling for many years, and they’re still widely used in many parts of the world.
Plus, the process is relatively simple since the we are not worried about keeping the tooth clean and dry during the installation. They also cost less than other materials used in dental restorations.
But their popularity has waned in recent years. Since they’re not tooth-colored, they don’t look as natural.
Amalgam fillings also contain mercury, and has deemed it a “viable and safe” option.
Gold fillings are more expensive than other types of fillings, but you do get what you pay for. They’re durable and can last 20 years or more. They typically require a two-visit process.
Ceramic fillings, which incorporate a type of porcelain, also tend to be pretty long-lasting, with an expected lifespan of as much as 15 years. But they’re not very commonly used, tend to be very expensive, and also require a two-visit process.
Glass ionomer fillings are made with a glass filler. Like composite resin fillings, glass ionomer fillings are tooth-colored and can be shaded to blend in with a person’s teeth. This means they’ll be less obtrusive than an amalgam filling.
How long does it take to get a filling?
In general, a filling takes an hour or less. A simple filling may take as little as 20 minutes. A larger filling or multiple fillings can take longer.
Also, depending on the materials used for the filling, it could take longer, or require a second visit. For instance:
Composite resin material that’s layered into your tooth takes more time, but it’s completed in one visit.
Some composite fillings may be made from an impression and require a second visit to bond the filling.
Gold or porcelain fillings, also called inlays or onlays, usually can’t be done in one sitting. In the first visit, the cavity will be removed and an impression will be made of your tooth, which is sent to a lab to fabricate the filling. In the next visit, the filling is bonded to your tooth.