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Dental Fillings: What You Need to Know

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May 8 • 2 minute read

Tooth decay is a dental health problem that frequently arises as a result of poor dental hygiene and a diet that is rich in sugar and sweetened beverages. A dental filling is used to seal the cavity and stop the decay from progressing further.

The most common materials used for fillings include amalgam, gold, composite, and porcelain. Determining which type is right for you will depend on where the filling is located in your mouth and if you have any allergies to the materials. Talk to your dentist about how fillings can improve your oral health, and keep in mind these important concepts. 

Some Filling Material Can Cause Allergic Reactions  

Amalgam (metal) fillings can contain materials like mercury, chromium, beryllium, or nickel. In some people, these components can potentially cause side effects or even allergic reactions. The allergy could manifest in the form of a rash, swelling, or soft tissue burns. This filling material is fairly inexpensive and durable. If you need a strong filling on one of your back teeth, amalgam may be the best option. If you need a filling in a tooth that is highly visible when you smile, the dark color of amalgam is not the best choice, and you may want to consider porcelain or composite restorations.

Fillings are Softer Than Your Natural Teeth

While dental filling material has improved over the last few decades, fillings are still softer than natural enamel. Some filling material may not withstand the forces of chewing and biting as well as others. To keep your fillings intact it is best not to chew on hard things like ice, nuts, or hard candy when you have fillings.

Dental Filling Treatment

Some people have the misconception that the dental filling process is a painful and scary one. However, the dental filling process is relatively painless. Most dentists use a local anesthetic to numb the area during the procedure, and by the time the anesthetic wears off, the pain has usually subsided.

Most Popular Filling Material

  • Composite fillings are popular because they can be made to match your tooth enamel. This material is best for filling small cavities in highly visible areas of your smile. The weakens of this material is that it can chip or wear over time, or can become easily stained by tea, coffee or tobacco. Composite fillings can last from 3 to 10 years with proper care.
  • Porcelain is a more expensive alternative and used when there is a larger area that needs restoration. If you don’t need a full crown, porcelain inlays and onlays are usually the best choices. Porcelain will resist staining and is custom made in a lab to match your tooth color perfectly. The restoration is bonded to your tooth by your dentist and usually covers a large surface area. Most people feel it is worth the extra cost to have a tooth that is natural looking and durable.

Fillings are one of the best forms of preventive treatment and can save you time and money in the long run. Visit your dentist regularly for your scheduled exams to catch damage early and protect the structure of your tooth.

Do you have any issues with your current dental fillings, or need to get a dental filling in the future? Let us know in the comments below! See your dentist and learn what dental filling options they have to offer, and what solution would be best for your tooth decay treatment needs.

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