Rockford Dentist - The Teeth People
Most people need at least one tooth filling in their lifetime. Dental filling procedures are most commonly used to treat cavities, but they’re also used to repair cracked or broken teeth, or teeth that have been worn down over time.
Commonly, dental filling procedures feature the following:
Topical anesthetic to numb the area of treatment
Decay removal from the affected teeth
Tooth restoration using a composite or amalgam filling
Bite check to make sure your teeth align comfortably
Types of Dental Fillings
The Classic: Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings are what you might think of as “silver” dental fillings, though they’re actually composed of a mixture of tin, copper, silver, and mercury. They have been used for over 150 years! The reason dentists have been using them for so long is that they are strong and long-lasting, and they are also the least expensive option. However, they’re very noticeable and tend to darken over time, so if you want something that blends in, amalgam fillings probably aren’t the ones you want.
Low Profile: Composite Fillings
Composite dental fillings are made of acrylic resin and powdered glass. Unlike amalgam fillings, they can be colored to match your teeth, which is part of what makes them so popular. They do wear out faster, though, and aren’t always the best choice for teeth that take the greatest chewing pressure.
Putting On The Ritz: Gold Fillings
Gold fillings aren’t made of pure gold, just like amalgam fillings aren’t made of pure silver, but they are some of the most durable fillings available, capable of lasting more than two decades. They can’t corrode like amalgam fillings, and they’re very strong. Unfortunately, they are also very expensive, costing between six and ten times more than amalgam fillings.
Delicate Yet Realistic: Ceramic Fillings
Ceramic fillings are mostly made of porcelain. This makes them another low-profile option, and not only are they tooth-colored, they’re also stain-resistant! The drawbacks of ceramic fillings are that they are more brittle than composite fillings, and they are also nearly as expensive as gold.
Down To The Roots: Glass Ionomer Fillings
The final type of filling is resin or glass ionomer fillings. These are made of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a component of glass. They are typically used as cement for inlay fillings, for fillings in the front teeth, and for fillings when the decay extends into the root of the tooth. They are also used on baby teeth. Weaker than composite resin, glass ionomer fillings might only last around five years, and they don’t match the color of teeth as closely.
What Should I Expect After Getting A Filling?
You can expect to be numb for a few hours following your procedure. Due to this numbness, drinking and eating may be difficult in the affected area. Avoid drinking anything very hot or chewing as you might hurt yourself without realizing it.
You may experience minor tooth sensitivity for up to 6 weeks after the treatment – this is a natural response from having work done, though not everyone experiences it. The gums surrounding the teeth may be sensitive for up to a week after the procedure as a result of tissue manipulation during the filling. If sensitivity is more than mild or persists beyond these timeframes, contact your dentist for an appointment to make sure everything is healing appropriately.
You may experience soreness when opening your mouth following the procedure – this is typically from holding your mouth open during the appointment and a warm compress afterward should help alleviate any pain.
Once the numbness wears off, pay attention to your bite to make sure everything feels normal. You want to feel your teeth hitting on both sides simultaneously when you bite down. If this is not the case, or if you’re experiencing continued discomfort with chewing, go back to your dentist and they can do a quick adjustment.