You, or your child, may need dental fillings in order to protect a tooth and to keep it safe after it sustains damage or experiences an infection. Fortunately, there are several options available for people needing a filling, with tooth-colored materials as one option to hide the dental work.
Most often, we will use dental fillings to treat a cavity. If you or your child has a cavity, we will need to remove the infected or decayed area. Removing the infection will leave a small hole or at least dent that we will need to fill in with a safe and strong material. If the gap in the tooth is left open and exposed, it will become an excellent resting place for bacteria, leading to future oral health problems.
Dental fillings can also restore worn down or damaged teeth after an accident. Chipped or broken teeth can also be treated with a filling. This is most often seen when people grind their teeth.
If the dentist decides that a dental filling is necessary, they will numb the area before doing any work. This is typically done with local anesthesia so that the patient doesn’t feel any pain but is still awake during the procedure. A dental tool will then remove the damaged area of the tooth. Once we completely remove the damaged or decayed area, we will clean it to make sure that there are no lingering bacteria.
If you have a standard metal filling, we will place it into the clean area and smooth it out to blend in with the tooth as much as possible. If you have a tooth-colored filling, we will need to place it in layers. After each layer, a special light is used to harden the material before the next layer is placed. This process helps to create a natural appearance that patients desire.
Types of Fillings
There are several types of dental fillings to choose from, and the decision must be made based on personal preference, goals, cost, and lifestyle.
Gold fillings. These are extremely durable and can sustain hard chewing without needing to be replaced for ten to fifteen years. They are easier to look at than silver fillings but also more expensive.
Silver fillings. These will also last for ten to fifteen years but will not blend in with your tooth, and we may need to remove the additional area from the tooth in order to make space for it.
Composites. A composite or tooth-colored filling will blend in with your tooth and be bonded to it for additional strength. They do take longer to place, extending a dental visit by at least twenty minutes. Additionally, they only last for around five years vs. ten to fifteen.
Dental Fillings in Costa Mesa
As a patient, it is important to review your options with the dentist prior to deciding which type of dental filling is right for you.
Live in Costa Mesa, CA and have questions about dental fillings? Give us a call at (714) 545-7157.
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Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s
Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.
Published November 1, 2016. Updated August 16, 2021