All you need to know about cavity fillings

Close-up of patient's open mouth during oral checkup with mirror near by

We all know that dental hygiene and health are important; dental decay can be a serious issue if left untreated. Tooth sensitivity and pain are among the most common symptoms you might experience, suggesting that it’s time to make an appointment at the Dental Healthcare Practice in Horsham.

If you need a filling, your dentist may numb your teeth, gums and surrounding skin to avoid discomfort during treatment before drilling out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a filling.  The process only takes a few minutes although your mouth will probably remain numb for a few hours afterwards.

Different types of cavity fillings

These days, there are many options available for tooth fillings. Amalgam and composite are the most commonly used materials used, but there are others. Your dentist will be able to explain the choices available for metal coloured and white dental fillings, and make his recommendations. The best tooth filling type for your cavity will depend on your aesthetic preferences, as well as cost.

Amalgam fillings

Amalgam has been used by dentists for over 100 years and is one of the least expensive cavity filling materials. It is made from a combination of several metallic elements, which makes the filling metal coloured and therefore visibly noticeable when you smile. Amalgam fillings are very strong, and they are particularly suited for filling cavities at the back of the mouth (such as in your molars) where heavy chewing takes place.

Composite fillings

Made from a mixture of powdered glass or quartz filler to match the colour of your tooth, this type of filling is also known as composite or filled resin. The material is fairly durable and best suited to small or mid-sized cavity fillings, preferably in areas of your mouth where moderate chewing is performed.

Metal fillings

The most common metals used for cavity fillings are gold and silver amalgam. Metal fillings can last 10-15 years before they need replacing, compared to less durable composite materials. While some people may prefer the look of gold coloured to silver coloured fillings, it should be pointed out that a gold filling can cost as much as 10x more than a silver amalgam filling.

Ceramic fillings

Tooth coloured ceramic cavity fillings are typically made of porcelain, a material that is less susceptible to long-term tooth staining compared to composite materials. A popular, unobtrusive solution to cavity fillings, it’s worth noting that in terms of price, a ceramic filling is almost as expensive as a gold filling.

Glass Ionomer

This material is a mixture of glass and acrylic and creates a cavity filling that forms a chemical link with the tooth and may release fluoride to help protect from further tooth decay. Glass ionomer cavity fillings are not as long lasting as other materials and are typically used for baby teeth and non-biting surfaces, e.g. the neck of the tooth. Replacement is often needed in as little as 5 years.

How to look after your cavity fillings

After you’ve had your tooth filling, there may be some initial sensitivity but this should soon subside and you can carry on with your best oral hygiene routine as normal. If anything feels wrong, or you experience pain, please contact us without delay so we can investigate.

Under normal circumstances, cavity fillings will last for many years before they need replacing. If you routinely clench or grind your teeth, you may wear out your filling sooner. Sometimes, a cavity filling can break or fall out, for instance if you bite on something hard or receive a blow to the mouth. In this case, to avoid irritation and infection of the unprotected tooth, you should seek dental treatment right away.

The Dental Healthcare Practice in Horsham is a friendly team of highly experienced dentists. Recognising that many of our patients may feel uncomfortable at the prospect of having dental treatment carried out, we specialise in nervous patient care. For more information about any of our services, call 01403 259717 today.

Author: dentisthorsham
Published on: Last updated: 24th January 2024