Fillings are used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay or have been cracked or broken.
There are a number of different filling materials available, including:
Amalgam fillings are silver in colour. They are normally used in back teeth as they provide a strong and hard wearing biting surface. They should last for 15-20 years.
The mercury used within a dental amalgam filling is not harmful once it is combined with the other materials within the filling. There have been many studies over the year looking at the safety of amalgam fillings and so far no reputable study has found a connection between the fillings and medical problems.
Composite fillings can be matched to the natural colour of your teeth, meaning that the fillings are less noticeable. This is especially important if fillings are needed in front teeth that are visible when you smile. Composite fillings are strong but may not be as hard wearing as amalgam fillings.
Glass ionomer fillings are tooth coloured and form a chemical link to the tooth. This type of filling is fairly week so is normally only used on baby teeth or where the filling will not be in contact with the biting surface.
The tooth will first be numbed using a local anaesthetic so that you will not be able to feel the dentist working on your tooth. The tooth is then prepared with any decay removed and shaped to support the filling. If there is a large hole the dentist may place a small stainless steel pin in place to help strengthen the tooth. The cavity will then be filled. The material used will depend on which tooth in the mouth needs treating as well as other factors such as the strength of your bite. Please be sure to let your dentist know if you would specifically like a tooth coloured filling.
By having teeth filled and treated quickly after decay or a crack is noticed the tooth will be prevented from deteriorating further and avoids the need for more extensive dental treatment.