Oral Health Guidelines: Filling


Filling is done in a tooth damaged by decay. It helps to return a tooth to its usual function and form. Before doing a filling the dentist takes out the decayed tooth part, and cleans the concerned area. After the cavity is clean he or she fills it with a filling material. Filling closes the space where bacteria can get deposited and grow and prevents more decay.

Commonly used materials for filling are gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and amalgam. Amalgam is an alloy that contains mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc.

Which Type of Filling is Best

No one type of filling is considered as the best type of filling. The type of filling that is best for you depends on

Extent of the repair that needs to be done,
Your allergies to certain materials
Which tooth needs filling
Cost factor
Concerns regarding different filling material are

Gold filling: Is long lasting (may last more than 20 years) and is considered by some experts as the best filling material. But it is expensive.

Amalgam (silver) filling: Relatively cheap and resistant to attrition. It is dark in color and thus often not preferred for visible areas, such as front teeth.
Composite (plastic) resin: Have the same color as the teeth and thus preferred for visible areas, such as front teeth. Not a suitable material for large fillings. Life of the filling varies from three to 10 years.

Porcelain filling: Have the same color as the teeth and thus preferred for visible areas, such as front teeth. In addition they are stain resistant, but it is expensive.

If the tooth is damaged extensively due to decay or a fracture a crown or cap may be needed. If the tooth decay has reached the nerve treatment options include

Root canal therapy— In this procedure the damaged nerve is removed
Pulp capping— In this procedure attempt to keep the nerve alive is made.

What Happens When You get a Filling

Before doing a filling the dentist takes out the decayed tooth part, and cleans the concerned area. After the cavity is clean he or she fills it with a filling material. Filling closes the space where bacteria can get deposited and grow and prevents more decay. The material used for filling include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and amalgam.

How Do I Know if I Need a Filling

Your dentist will examine and tell if you need a filling. A dentist uses a small mirror to inspect the surface of all the teeth. If needed your dentist may ask for X-ray of the teeth and jaw. The treatment for your decayed tooth will be decided by the dentist after examination.

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