The most common teeth problems in Carson today are tooth decay and cavities. Maintaining healthy oral habits and visiting the dentist once every six months for a checkup can help prevent these oral problems or detect them at an early stage before they advance. Another solution to these common dental issues is dental fillings that involve plugging a hole to the tooth to restore it as close as possible to its original structure and functionality, a function typically and in harmony with adjacent teeth.

If you want to restore your original tooth structure and functionality, Washington Dental is available to help. We have cutting-edge dental technology and experienced general dentists that can perform all forms of fillings while ensuring your comfort and convenience as a patient.

We have discussed the meaning of dental fillings, various forms of fillings signs that you need the treatment, the importance of the treatment, the restoration procedure, and its benefits to understand this treatment better.

What are Dental Fillings?

A dental filling is a procedure performed to restore the tooth’s structure and ability after being damaged by decay by removing the tooth’s damaged surface and filling the cavity using various filling materials. This general dentistry procedure is also commonly used to repair teeth with minimal fractures, cracks or restore teeth that have weakened over time due to oral habits like grinding or nail-biting.

Fillings further help with cavity repairs to prevent the oral problem from advancing into more prominent oral conditions that require procedures like root canal or extraction. Dental fillings eliminate many oral issues but depending on the extent of the decay or cavities, the affected areas might require additional or alternative treatment. The dentist might recommend dental crowns to support the traditionally filling, dental implants, and bridges to replace extracted teeth and infected or abscessed teeth.

Signs Your Caries Need Dental Fillings

When going in for your regular appointment with the dentist, there are sure signs that, when spotted, will force the expert to recommend fillings. The signs include:

  • Dark spots on your teeth surfaces
  • An opening or cavity on a tooth
  • Persistent and dull toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot/cold foods and beverages
  • Mouth odor that doesn’t go away even after brushing
  • Sharp pain on specific teeth when biting

If you have tooth decay that has eaten away your teeth’ enamel, you are likely to experience sensitivity, which shows you need dental fillings to fix the problem.

What are the Different Forms of Fillings?

As mentioned above, there are different forms of filling materials you must discuss with your dentist first before undergoing the treatment. At Washington Dental, we will address all the questions you might have regarding the procedure and recommend the most suitable treatment and the material to be used for restoration. Some of the factors we consider when recommending filling materials include:

  • The location of the damaged tooth
  • The size of the cavity or extent of tooth decay
  • Your aesthetic concerns
  • The amount you intend to spend on the procedure
  • Personal preferences
  • Your dental history

Highlighted below are some of the filling materials you can use for your treatment:

  1. Composite Fillings

Otherwise known as filled resins, composite fillings are the most commonly used in restorative treatments because of their natural look and resilience. The restorations are made from glass and quartz fillers, which can be enhanced to form a white and bright smile that resembles your natural teeth’ color and physical appearance. The fillings are relatively strong because they bond directly with the tooth structure, providing enough support.

If you are looking to restore the ability and structure of the tooth and at the same time obtain a flawless smile, you can opt for these fillings. They are most suitable for front and back teeth because minimal chewing occurs, and when you smile, they are the most visible teeth.

The glass particles are mixed with quartz to create a paste plugged into the hole on the tooth to take the shape of the hole or cavity. Then, to perfectly seal the teeth’ margins and restore teeth’ ability, composite fillings are placed in layers.

We isolate the damaged tooth using a rubber dam when using this filling, then place adhesives after the composite material. The material is then hardened using blue bonding light for hardening. Unlike amalgam, composite material is the best because you can perform repairs and restorations without replacing the original filling.

However, you should know that these fillings are not suitable for large cavities and can show signs of stains if you have a habit of frequently consuming tea, coffee, or tobacco. Due to these reasons, composite fillings are not durable, and you might need to replace them after at least five years.

  1. Gold Fillings

Thousands of years ago, gold was prevalently used for tooth restoration because of its durability and malleability, but today these fillings are rarely used. Gold dental fillings are made of gold alloy that usually contains copper, gold, and other metals, making the fillings highly durable. They can last for up to twenty years, even when placed in commonly used areas for hard chewing. The challenge with these fillings is that they are costly.

  1. Amalgam Fillings

Dental experts have used amalgam for silver fillings for over a century. They are the most commonly used fillings for cavities because they are affordable compared to other fillings and very strong. Their high resistance to wear makes them suitable for restoring decayed molars because they enable effortless and painless chewing.

The fillings are made with a mix of silver, tin, mercury, and other metals that give them a dark color, making the tooth noticeable, lacking the cosmetic aspect. Because of the lack of aesthetic appeal, these fillings are not recommended for the areas visible to the mouth when you smile, like the front teeth. However, despite their lack of appeal, these materials are the cheapest among all other materials used for fillings and can last up to fifteen years without the need for replacement.

  1. Ceramic Fillings

Also called inlays or onlays, ceramic fillings are made of porcelain. These filings are durable and appealing, but their cost is nearly as high as gold fillings. So if you are working on a tight budget, ceramic fillings might not be suitable for you.

During the procedure, the dentist will shape the cavity, then take an impression of the tooth and send it to the laboratory, where dental technicians create inlays and onlays out of the prints. Thereafter, ceramic fillings are sent back to the dentist, who cements them on the teeth. Porcelain fillings are more prone to breaking than composite ones, which is why dentists don’t use these restorations for the back tooth because they cannot withstand hard chewing.

The advantage of ceramic restorations or fillings is that they are durable, and with healthy oral hygiene habits, the repairs can last up to fifteen years. Compared to composite fillings, these are more resistant to stains and don’t easily show discoloration, making them aesthetically appealing.

  1. Glass Ionomer Fillings

Glass ionomer is another material used in the restoration of teeth damaged by cavities or decay. A mixture of glass particles and acrylic acids is used to make the material that sticks to the teeth forming a filling or restoration. The advantage of these fillings is that they mimic the look of the natural tooth, thus giving you a flawless smile.

The best candidates for this type of filling are the children. With the changing tooth structure, the glass ionomer releases fluoride that helps shield the teeth from further decay. However, the fillers have a disadvantage because they are fragile and require to be replaced after every five years despite their price being in the same range as composite resin fillings.

Consultation and Treatment Planning

The process of dental fillings begins with a consultation and developing a treatment plan. Usually, the dentist discovers major dental issues during scheduled dental checkups. After a thorough examination of the teeth, if they observe signs of tooth decay, they will recommend an X-ray to find the exact location of the cavity and its extent.

When the X-ray results are back, the dentist will go through them to identify the problematic areas and advise you on the appropriate fillings or restorations for the cavities or decay. At Washington Dental, we consider several factors before recommending you on the most appropriate decay filling option mentioned earlier in this article.

Many people don’t know about fillings, and as a result, there is a common misconception that these procedures are painful and can have detrimental effects on your teeth. However, this is untrue because once your general dentist has decided it is the appropriate treatment, they will numb the tooth and the surrounding areas using a local anesthetic to make the process painless. To make you comfortable, we administer sedation, although if we do this, you should find someone to drive you home after treatment because it won’t be safe to do so.

The Procedure

Once the tooth with decay or cavities has been numbed, we prepare the tooth and the surrounding areas. We then remove the decay or reshape the holes using an oral handpiece or laser and use acid gel to cleanse the location to remove bacteria and debris before a restoration is placed.

After the tooth and surrounding areas are clean and free of bacteria, our dentists will isolate the affected tooth using a rubber dam. Isolation is critical, especially in composite fillings, because the moisture in your mouth might interfere with the bonding process. The isolation involves placing adhesive followed by composite materials enabling quick and secure bonding. We use special bonding light to ensure the bond between the material and the tooth is solid and durable. Once this is done, the tooth is polished to resemble the shape and ability of your natural teeth.

Recovery and Aftercare

We offer after-care consultation to guide you on ways you can prevent decay near or below the restored tooth. Right after treatment, we recommend that you keep off chewing on the areas around the restored tooth. After some hours, the pain and the sensitivity around the restoration site will subside, but in case it persists, don’t hesitate to call our office.

You can ensure that your fillings last longer by observing healthy oral habits like brushing your teeth regularly using fluoride toothpaste and flossing using an interdental cleaner or dental floss twice a day. Additionally, we recommend that you keep your dental appointments as scheduled by your general dentist or hygienist. During these appointments, the dentist might observe caries and recommend sealants to be placed on the tooth to prevent plaque from building up around the teeth, causing decay.

Similarly, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will increase the longevity of dental fillings. Note that regardless of how you care for your dental fillings, they are not permanent. The chewing that happens in the mouth causes the fillings to wear based on their durability. Therefore, if you notice teeth clenching and grinding, it’s an indication that your fillings have worn out, and it is time for a replacement. Failure to visit the dentists after seeing these signs might result in further damage to the tooth, thus requiring more complex and costly treatment that could have been avoided. 

Remember, if tooth decay develops around or underneath the dental fillings, you will require procedures like dental crowns, implants, or root canal and not decay or cavity fillings.

Possible Complications

Dental fillings or restorations are performed to alleviate pain, but it is common to experience discomfort after the procedure, especially when the sedation or local anesthesia wears out. The complications you might experience after treatment are:

Oral Infections

Sometimes the cavity or decay filling might pull away from the tooth, forming a small hole that creates room for plaque accumulation over time. The plaque might make room for bacteria growth which results in oral infection and further tooth decay. Therefore, when you notice a gap between the filling and tooth, reach out to us right away so that we can correct the problem before it becomes worse.

Allergic Reactions

Before the treatment, when discussing dental filling material options, talk to your dentist about any allergic reactions you have. Remember, amalgam or silver fillings and orthodontic tools might cause allergic reactions during the procedure, which is why you should discuss your options first to avoid these complications later during or after treatment.

Tooth Sensitivity 

After the dental fillings treatment, you are likely to experience sensitivity, especially hot or cold foods, drinks, cold air, and biting pressure. However, there should be no cause for alarm if you feel it because the sensitivity will go away after a few days without the need for any treatment.

Filling Damage

Ill-fitting decay fillings might sometimes crack, break or fall out when you experience trauma in the mouth or chew complex substances, which might result in infection or severe pain. If this happens, you need to talk to your dentist right away.

Benefits of Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are associated with many benefits. Remember, with dental cavities or decay, chewing food becomes painful and challenging because the tooth’s ability is affected. A filling restores the functionality of your teeth, thus enabling you to maintain your oral habits.

Also, before undertaking a significant procedure like a dental implant or a root canal, a dental filling might be used to prevent infection when temporarily fitted to enable the tooth and gums to recover.

Some fillings like glass ionomer produce fluoride that protects the tooth from further damage and decay. If the decay is underneath the tooth, the fluoride released supplements the tooth enamel, thus reversing it.

Some dental feelings also match the color of your natural teeth, thus giving you a flawless smile. Nobody can differentiate the teeth with fillings and the natural ones. Besides, if you are worried about cracked or fractured teeth, fillings can strengthen these weak teeth enabling them to function like natural ones.

Some dental fillings like the gold ones can last up to twenty years because they are highly resistant to stains and corrosions. However, the durability of the fillings depends on the material used, making it necessary to discuss material options with your dentist.

What is the Cost of Dental Fillings?

Having seen the above benefits of fillings as a restoration treatment, you must be wondering how much it costs. The cost of the procedure mostly depends on the kind of material used. You will part with more money if you opt for composite fillings than conventional amalgam restorations. The additional office tools required for some materials like a composite also make treatment with particular fillers costly.

The factors that affect the cost of the fillings include:

  • The general dentistry practice you visit for the procedure
  • The location of the dental office
  • The form of insurance coverage you possess
  • The number of decay teeth that need decay fillings
  • Location of the infected tooth

The average cost of silver or amalgam fillings ranges from $110 to $275, while the cost of resin-composite fillings averages between $135 to $325 per filling, and it depends on the number of teeth you want to restore.

Note that insurance companies cover dental fillings treatment. For this reason, if you have dental care coverage in your insurance company, you should find out from your insurer if the dentist you are working with is accredited. Also, you may want to know if you are covered under the policy. If the cost of treatment is more than the insurance coverage, your insurer will only cover the price up to the limit, and the rest you will pay out of pocket.

Merits and Demerits Associated with Porcelain, Composite and Amalgam Fillings

There are multiple benefits and disadvantages associated with the various types of dental fillings. These are:

  1. Safety and Appearance

The natural look of porcelain and composite fillings make them aesthetically appealing. Additionally, they are less likely to have mercury, and other metals present, causing toxicity or sensitivity. On the other hand, amalgam fillings have seen people complain of metal sensitivities and others a metallic taste in the mouth after treatment, raising concerns that the metal might contain mercury toxicity.

  1. The Durability of the Fillings

Compared to amalgam, porcelain and composite fillings are now more durable, thanks to the advancements made in dental manufacturing that have witnessed the strengthening of composite materials to the extent they can be used to restore molars. Further, the need for more minor preparations before treatment when using composite fillings makes these restorations a preference for many over the amalgam ones.

However, amalgam fillings are more durable than composite and porcelain and have a proven track record at the end of it all. The composite restorations are also prone to leakages, and chances of decay are higher than those made of amalgam material.

  1. Technique and Time

The success of your porcelain and composite is highly dependent on the techniques applied by the dentist. Besides, these fillings require additional dental tools making them more complex and time-consuming. It takes twice the time to perform an amalgam filling procedure to complete porcelain or composite resin filling. Additional equipment means the more sophisticated procedure is, which results in a high cost of treatment.

Also, because it takes more time to perform a porcelain filling procedure, the procedure tends to be expensive. If you consider a composite filling procedure and you want to pay through your insurer, you must be prepared to pay the extra costs for the treatment.

Find the Right Dentistry Service Near Me

If you are experiencing tooth decay or have a cavity in Carson, you should seek treatment on time because if the oral issue is not addressed on time, you could end up developing severe complications. The problem could also cause permanent damage to the tooth, thus requiring extraction. At Washington Dental, we can offer the best advice and information regarding your problem, like dental fillings. If you are looking for affordable and quality fillings in Carson, contact us today at 310-217-1507 to arrange a meeting.