Dental fillings are used to protect and add strength to teeth that have been compromised by decay, wear, or other damage. Whenever possible, Dr. Gauthier uses metal-free dental fillings such as composite resin or porcelain. Fillings are a conservative general dental treatment for tooth decay.
They help to stabilize the natural function of your smile. Treating tooth decay in the early stages of development can prevent the need for more advanced services such as a root canal or tooth extraction.
Tooth decay is a general dental problem and a leading dental health concern for both children and adults. Commonly a symptom of poor oral hygiene, tooth decay can be prevented. A good at-home oral hygiene routine and biannual dental health exams can help to keep teeth cavity-free.
Patients who visit the dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and dental cleaning typically experience fewer occurrences of tooth decay. Children should begin visiting the dentist as their first tooth emerges or by the age of 1 to prevent early childhood tooth caries.
Dental Fillings: What to Expect
Dental fillings are a routine procedure typically completed in just one visit to Apex Dental. A local anesthetic may be used to numb the area for the patient’s optimal comfort. Patients are able to return to their routine activities shortly after their dental filling treatment.
Composite Resin Dental Fillings
Composite resin fillings are also called white fillings. These fillings are made of a durable, biocompatible composite resin that comes in a range of tooth-colored shades to match natural teeth perfectly.
Composite resin dental fillings are applied to the tooth by hand without the aid of molds or other templates. The resin is sculpted into place by Dr. Gauthier and cured with a special light. Resin fillings can usually be completed in a single visit.
Dental Inlays & Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are a type of indirect restoration. This means that the restoration is manufactured outside of the mouth and then bonded to the tooth. Dr. Gauthier uses CEREC technology to create porcelain fillings in a single visit.
First, a digital impression is taken of the tooth. Then, using CEREC’s Computer-Aided Design and Manufacture (CAD/CAM) software, Dr. Gauthier fabricates a custom-fit porcelain restoration that will cover the tooth. While the patient waits, the inlay or onlay is created and then bonded to the tooth using a special adhesive.
A dental inlay typically fits inside the contours of the tooth, whereas a dental onlay covers the entire biting surface. This type of restoration is usually used when there is more significant damage to the tooth.
Replacing Metal Dental Fillings
Many patients with traditional amalgam fillings (metal fillings) choose to replace their dental fillings with comfortable and attractive cosmetic dental fillings. Some patients are sensitive to metal in their mouth and report a metallic taste or discomfort because of their metal dental filling.
Dr. Gauthier can replace your metal dental filling with either a composite resin dental filling, inlay, or onlay. If a tooth has more significant decay or damage, Dr. Gauthier may recommend a dental crown to hold the tooth together, adding protection, strength, and durability.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Cavities are one of the most common oral health problems. Almost everyone gets a cavity at some point in their life. They’re commonly found in children. Children tend to have diets higher in sugar and aren’t as adept at brushing their teeth.
Older adults also get them often because our teeth wear down over time, making it easier for decay to penetrate the surface. However, people of any age can get cavities.
Cavities form when sugars or starches stay on your teeth and aren’t cleaned off properly. Bacteria feed on these, creating a film on the tooth called plaque. The longer this is left there, the harder the plaque gets, eventually turning into tartar. That’s hard on the tooth and provides a shield for the bacteria that are still eating away at your tooth structure.
As this progresses, bacteria eat farther and farther through the layers of your teeth. Once it’s past the enamel, it moves to the layer called dentin. This layer contains nerve endings, and you might experience some sensitivity.
It gets into the pulp in the innermost layer of your tooth. Irritated pulp swells up and becomes sensitive. There’s nowhere to release the pressure, so you experience pressure and pain in your tooth and jaw.
Dental Filling FAQs
Read answers to common questions about dental fillings below:
Can children develop tooth decay?
Yes. Childhood tooth cavities are a leading health concern in American youth. Preventing tooth decay from an early age can allow your child to enjoy better lifelong oral health.
Children should begin practicing brushing habits as soon as their first tooth emerges. During this stage of development, children should begin visiting the dentist for routine checkups and to develop a healthy dentist-patient relationship.
What are my treatment options for tooth decay?
Treatment for tooth decay will vary depending on the stage of decay. Caught early, a dental filling, tooth inlay, or dental onlay can clear out the diseased tissue and save the tooth from extraction. Tooth decay left untreated can damage the tooth’s structural foundation. Severe decay requires a root canal or tooth extraction.
Do I need a filling for small tooth cavities?
Yes. Unaddressed cavities can cause larger issues down the road. Fortunately, filling a cavity is not an expensive procedure. Most (if not all) dental insurance plans cover filling treatment. Dental fillings are also a relatively painless procedure.
Do I need a filling or a crown?
We will recommend one or both treatments depending on your case. A dental filling is best for teeth with cavities. Fillings preserve decayed teeth. Dental crowns cover damaged teeth like a cap. In some cases, we may recommend a filling and a dental crown. A crown can stabilize a tooth with a large dental filling. We may also recommend a tooth crown for patients with weakened teeth.
Why don’t dentists use metal fillings?
While metal fillings are durable, they have many disadvantages. Metal fillings:
- Contain elemental mercury
- Do not bond to teeth
- Increase tooth sensitivity
- Do not blend with the color of natural teeth
How do you clean dental fillings?
You can brush and floss your dental fillings as you would natural teeth. Gently brush your fillings with a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive toothpaste. Brush twice a day for two minutes and floss at least once daily. Flossing before brushing removes food debris and bacteria between your teeth and gums.
Get a Dental Filling Today
Receive a safe dental filling near you today at Apex Dental. Call (508) 506-1691 or request a dental consultation with Dr. Gauthier on our website anytime.