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Dental fillings

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Dental filling is a treatment option for cavity. The decayed portion of the tooth is removed, which is replaced or “filled” with a dental filling.  Your dentist might also use filling to mend cracked and broken teeth.

Different types of dental filling materials

There are several types of dental filings available and depending upon the extent of damage, the cost involved and the kind of filling you need, your doctor will suggest one from the following:

Amalgam fillings- They have been used since years and are amalgams of elemental metals like mercury, silver, tin and copper, which makes it safe for use.

Composite fillings- A tooth-coloured material made of glass or quartz and resin is used for dental filling. It’s considerably more durable and aesthetic than amalgam filling.

Custom-made dental restoration- Custom made dental restorations, also known as casting or inlay are made of porcelain, metal alloys, gold, and/or composite materials.

Ionomer fillings- They are of two types- glass ionomer and resin ionomer filling. They are made up of acrylic and glass, which render the teeth a natural look. Ionomer fillings release fluoride.

Each of the aforementioned dental filling has specific pros and cons.

What steps are involved in dental filing?

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Before the procedure

Your dentist will first evaluate your teeth, take X rays and then confirm if dental filling is needed.

If yes, then your dentist will choose what kind of filling is suitable for your considering the advantages and disadvantages of different types of fillings and the cost involved.  

During the procedure

The following steps are involved in dental filling

Numbing: First a local anaesthesia is used to numb the tooth area that needs to be filled

Removal: The decayed, damaged and cracked portion of the tooth is removed with the help of dental instruments like a drill, laser or air abrasion instrument. The choice of instrument depends on your dentist’s preference.

Probing: Your dentist will now probe the teeth to ensure if all the damage has been eliminated. The cavity is cleaned off bacteria and debris

Filling: The process involves lots of precision. If the decay is at root, then an ionomer is used to protect the nerve. Your dentist will ensure that the filling material has bonded properly with the tooth and its contour is appropriate

Fine tuning: Your dentist will finally smoothen and polish the filling

After the procedure

Depending upon the extent of damage, the time taken for dental filling might range from 20-60 minutes.

Your lips and mouth will remain numb for half an hour or more. You cannot eat until the numbing sensation wears off.

Lastly, your teeth are most likely to become sensitive to cold, hot and sour foods for a few days. Initially, you might sense a little discomfort while eating and brushing, but you will get used to it. Some additional precautions might be suggested by your doctor.

Dental filling is absolutely a safe technique and the filling agent does not trigger any reaction inside the body. Follow the instructions given by your doctor and take care of your oral health.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015