A dental filling (tooth filling) is the restorative process to repair tooth cavities or other damage to the tooth surface. After removing decayed tooth material, the remaining cavity is filled with restorative materials like gold, silver amalgam , porcelain, plastic or glass composite materials. The filling restores tooth structure, protects the tooth from further degradation and returns normal tooth function for biting and chewing.
If the tooth decay or damage is severe, a filling may not suffice and other dental procedures may be required.
In some cases, tooth decay is so severe, that a crown must be constructed outside of the mouth, which is then fit onto the tooth. This is called indirect restoration. Most commonly, though, the dental filling occurs completely in the mouth, called direct restoration, without need for molds, crowns or bridges to be placed.
Depending on what your best option is, your dentist may be able to complete your filling immediately. In preparation for treatment, the area surrounding the affected tooth will be anesthetized (numbed) using a local anesthetic.
If necessary, you also may receive a form of sedation dentistry to ensure your comfort. Keep in mind that if you undergo sedation dentistry, you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.
You can choose tooth-coloured fillings to match the colour of your teeth, making them a natural-looking alternative to amalgam fillings. They are often used in teeth that show when you smile or talk. They aren't as durable as amalgam and so aren't always suitable for the grinding and chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Silver fillings on the other hand, are less expensive than gold materials and they can be quite resistant to wear. With their color being dark, they are easier to notice than composite or porcelain fillings, and arent recommended for visible areas of the mouth, especially the front teeth. Composite fillings are a common type of material, as they match the color of your teeth. The material that makes up the composite filling is mixed then placed directly in the cavity, where it hardens. They last several years, although composite isnt recommended for large cavities, or areas where they may chip.