What are tooth fillings?

These days, there are many different kinds of tooth fillings that are used by dentists to fix and repair your teeth. Indeed, they are comprised of a variety materials ranging from gold to ceramics and while many of us think that fillings are used just to repair cavities, they’re actually used to fix cracks, chips, seal root canals and even more.

Normally, fillings are required to ensure that your teeth are structurally sound. Over time, decay slowly wears down at the edges, eventually creating minor holes in the outer enamel and exposing the tooth’s inner dentine. In order to ensure that the roots don’t become compromised, dentists use tooth fillings to seal the holes and strengthen your teeth.

In root canals and major cavities, fillings act to strengthen your teeth and protect them from rapid decay. In some circumstances, dentists might also use a special filling known as an indirect filling that is essentially a pre-made filling that fits the hole exactly. These are known for their strength, but also most unfortunately, their price. The good news however, is that while these take a few visits to ‘install’, they really are worth it, often lasting for many years.

Indeed, fillings have to be perhaps the most common dental treatment available. Typically while amalgam fillings were always popular, today, it’s porcelain, ceramic and amalgam fillings that are still being used because while ceramic / porcelain fillings provide great aesthetics, silver amalgam also provides an affordable alternative that’s accessible for just about anyone.

Recently, there has been a great deal of speculation about the risks of amalgam based fillings due to the fact that the compound is a mix of mercury, silver and other metals. However, time and time again, medical studies have shown that amalgam is safe, affordable and most importantly, in over 150 years of usage, there’s not been one reported case of mercury poisoning because when bonded with other metals, mercury is a perfectly safe and harmless material. Without it, fillings would be a great deal more tricky.

For those undergoing a tooth filling, it’s definitely not a process to be scared of. Typically all that’s done by the dentist is the removal of decayed material and then the ‘filling’ of the hole with the chosen compound. The filling is then dried, shaped and polished so that when the job’s done, you don’t even notice it’s there. All this is done under a local anesthetic, ensuring that the area is completely numb and the treatment, painless.

Tooth fillings are an essential part of dentistry, and all too often people will neglect regular checkups only to find out a few years later that they really did need a filling years back. When this happens, the dentist may be forced to perform an extraction or if the tooth can be saved, a root canal. By visiting a dentist regularly, you ensure that your teeth are in good condition and that hopefully, you’ll have them for a very long time.

Dental fillings and many procedures often use a dental filler which is commonly referred to as ‘cement’. This material is actually a special bonding agent that’s used to fill in dental caries (cavities) and to ensure that any cracks / chips in the teeth are sealed up and as stable as possible.

From root canals to chipped teeth, dental filler is used a lot more often than you might think. The composition varies from rubber based materials to various metal alloys which are safe, secure and last for years. Back in the old days, many tooth fillings actually contained lead. Luckily, fillings today are mostly made of alloys that are easily accepted by our bodies.

Typically, dental fillings are applied at a dental clinic and they’re quick, painless and over in just a few minutes. The procedure normally starts with the dentist cleaning and preparing the area to be filled by removing any signs of decayed tooth or infection. Following this, the filling will be applied and once dry, the dentist will shape the filling and polish it so as to make it as comfortable as possible. In a root canal, the dental filler actually replaces the inner pulp of the tooth as this this i cored out by the dentist in order to eliminate the chance of future infection. As a result, the process leaves a  hollow space which is then filled with the filler.

Today, there are many different tooth filler materials available. Generally gold, silver amalgam, porcelain and also composites. Depending on your budget / insurance, the type of filling will vary, but generally speaking, gold and silver amalgam fillings tend to be the most durable, but at the expense of not being very cosmetically appealing. With life-spans of up to 15 years, opposed to around 3 – 5 years for the composite / porcelain alternatives that are color-matched, there are also a number of other factors involved in the choosing of a tooth filler, which your dentist should advise you on.

Over time, fillings can work themselves loose ultimately coming free every once in a while. When this happens, it’s important to visit a dentist quickly so they can repair the hole, ensuring that the roots of the teeth do not become exposed, and ensuring that infections / abscesses cannot occur. If you can’t see a dentist immediately, it’s best to use a temporary filler.

Temporary dental tooth filler is essentially a form of dental cement used when you have worked a filling loose or cracked a tooth and can’t get to a dentist. Available at most pharmacies, temporary dental cement is the best way to ensure that when you damage your teeth, you’re not making it worse by leaving the damage exposed to bacteria and possible infection. While it’s good for a temporary period, it’s still important to see a dental specialist as soon as possible.

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