Complete guide about dental fillings

Complete Guide About Dental Fillings

A cavity can cause extreme pain and discomfort – the delicate insides of the tooth have been exposed and, to make matters worse, there is often a bacterial infection present. The one thing you should not do when you suspect you have a cavity is ignore it – this is not the sort of thing that will heal itself and will only continue to worsen.

Instead, dental fillings are the way to go. They will restore damaged teeth back to their original shape or form, preventing the need for more invasive tooth removal.

Boroondara Family Dentist has been providing comprehensive dental care, including high-quality dental fillings, to patients in the Balwyn North area for more than 50 years now. If you suspect that you have a cavity, get in touch with our highly experienced team today.

What are Dental Fillings?

This is the name given to the tooth restorative process that is used to return damaged teeth to their original shape or form (wherever possible). They can be used to fill a cavity (or hole), as well as to replace a corroded and/or eroded section of a tooth. This helps to alleviate any pain and prevents the cavity from growing larger, as well as allows the patient to return to chewing as normal. A filling also helps to prevent further decay in the same area.

What are Dental Fillings Made Of?

Fillings can actually be made from a handful of different materials, depending on personal preference and the location of the damage (different materials tend to be used for front teeth versus back teeth, for example). There are three main types of material currently in use:

  • Composite
    Also known as ‘white filling’, this material is the most popular in modern dentistry due to its ability to maintain the natural colour of the tooth. A coupling agent is used to strengthen the bond between the filling and the tooth, followed by a light or heat application.
  • Porcelain
    Usually called ‘inlays’ or ‘onlays’, these fillings are produced to order in a lab according to the patient’s specific requirements. This material is used when a larger filling is required or when external areas of the tooth need to be covered.
  • Temporary
    This type of filling is used when a patient has just had a root canal, suffered tooth trauma, or when they’re waiting for a porcelain filling, crown, bridge, or dental implant to be made. As their name suggests, these fillings are meant to be temporary and are not as strong.

What is the Procedure for Getting a Dental Filling?

The good news is that fillings are one of the fastest procedures that dentists perform, and they can usually be completed in a single appointment (unless an inlay or onlay is required). The procedure usually involves four steps:

  1. Local Anaesthetic (optional)
    A local anaesthetic is always offered to patients to minimise any discomfort during the procedure; however, this is completely optional, and you may decline.
  2. Tooth Preparation
    Rubber dams are inserted into the mouth to keep the tooth dry and isolated during the procedure. Any decay or old fillings are removed, and the tooth is reshaped if required. It’s then cleaned and dried, ready for the new filling.
  3. Filling Placement
    Your dentist will carefully select the material and colour of your filling to ensure a match for your tooth and to achieve the best possible outcome. A small amount of soft material is placed over the cavity, which will either be set naturally or under UV lights.
  4. Filling Adjustment
    The filling is polished and smoothed to ensure a correct bite. This also guarantees the longevity of the filling, as if it doesn’t sit flush to the tooth, it can work itself loose over time.

What Aftercare is Required?

Aftercare is very important for the longevity of your dental filling, so ensure that you follow your dentist’s instructions. These will usually revolve around regular brushing (twice a day), anti-microbial mouthwashing and flossing (once a day), and active maintenance from your dentist and/or hygienist.

Tooth sensitivity is common after getting a filling but this should subside after a few weeks. Avoid the things that cause sensitivity (such as air, sugary foods, and temperature) in the meantime. If the sensitivity does not go away or it’s extreme, it’s important that you return to your dentist.

Can I Eat After a Dental Filling?

This will depend on the type of filling you have. White fillings generally harden instantly, so you will be able to eat immediately afterwards. Porcelain fillings, on the other hand, take longer to harden, so it’s recommended that you avoid hard foods for at least 24 hours.

How Long Does a Dental Filling Last?

This will depend on the material that was used and how well it’s cared for, but dental fillings can be expected to last anywhere from five to 30 years. While a filling falling out is not an emergency, you should return to your dentist sooner rather than later to prevent further problems (such as decay or breakages) from arising.

Keep in mind that temporary fillings usually fall out, fracture, or wear out within a month, so be sure to go back for your follow-up appointment to have a permanent solution sorted.

Dental Fillings are the Solution of Choice

If you are experiencing tooth decay, sensitivity, tooth pain, gum issues, or enamel loss, you may require dental fillings and should book an appointment with Boroondara Family Dentist sooner rather than later for an assessment. We understand that visiting the dentist is not always a pleasant experience, but ignoring the problem may lead to it becoming worse (not to mention more time-consuming and costly to repair).


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