When you go for a check up, we check your fillings and may suggest that you replace any loose or broken ones. We also look for signs of decay, such as brown or black spots and may want to use X-rays to take a closer look at problem spots.
If you have a cavity, we may keep an eye on it (if it's small) or fill it right away. If a large cavity is not filled, it can get bigger and cause pain. The tooth may even have to be removed and replaced with a false (or artificial) tooth.
If you have a cavity and it needs a filling, there are different kinds of fillings to do the job.
We care about you and your oral health. If you have any questions or concerns about fillings, talk to someone in our office. We will advise you on the type of filling that works best in your particular case, and inform you about the aesthetic and cost implications for each type.
Before you get a filling, tell your dentist about changes to your health since your last visit:
- Are you taking medicine?
- Do you have allergies?
- Are you pregnant?
How Fillings Are Done
To fill a cavity, your dentist may first give you "freezing" (or local anesthetic), so you do not feel any pain. Your dentist then takes out all traces of decay, shapes the hole and fills it.
Most fillings are done in two ways:
- Direct Filling - These fillings go right into the cavity, after your dentist has cleaned out the decay. In our office we use only tooth coloured fillings. They harden quickly and you can eat right after their placement.
- Indirect Filling - Examples of this type of filling are crowns (or caps) and inlays. They are custom made in a lab to fit your tooth. We cement the filling in place. Most indirect fillings take two or more appointments to complete.
Remember, we are interested in you and your oral health. If you are concerned about having any particular dental restorative materials placed in your teeth, talk to us and be a partner in decisions about your oral health care.
1. Dental Amalgam Fillings
Dental amalgam fillings are sometimes called "silver" fillings. They are the most common type of filling used in Canada today. Because these fillings are silver in colour, they are used to fill back teeth. They are a mix of metals such as mercury, silver, copper and tin.
I can't think of any. If anyone can please let me know
- The silver colour may not appeal to people who want a "natural" look.
- Tiny amounts of mercury are released from the filling when you chew. For most people, this bit of mercury is nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that amalgam fillings do not cause illness. They have been used on people for more than 150 years.
- Health Canada advises pregnant women in need of a filling to wait until the baby is born before they go ahead with a silver mercury filling. Since this is true I wonder how safe these fillings really are. No one in our office has any silver fillings in their mouths and none of our families do do either. You would think in our modern scientific age that 150 year old silver-mercury filling are acceptable. Nay, nay to that.
2. Cast Gold Fillings
Cast gold fillings are based on a model (or cast) of your tooth. Cast gold fillings are a mixture of gold with other metals such as silver and copper. These other metals make gold fillings more durable.
A cast gold filling is made in a dental lab and sent back to the dentist who then cements it in place in your mouth. You will need at least two visits to the dentist to get the job done. During the first visit, the dentist cleans out all the decay and makes a mold of your tooth. The hole is filled with a temporary filling.
Meanwhile, in a dental lab, the mold of your tooth is used to make a model of your tooth. A filling that is the same size and shape as your tooth is built, based on the model. When you go back to the dentist a couple of weeks later, the gold filling is cemented in place.
- Gold is stronger than amalgam.
- Gold fillings last a long time.
- Gold costs more than other kinds of fillings.
- Gold fillings and crowns are indirect fillings, so they require at least two appointments.
- The gold colour may not appeal to people who want a "natural" look. With modern materials gold fillings are passe. They just don'tlook good. They are still the best material in the world but we use tooth coloured ones now.
1. Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are also called tooth coloured or white fillings. To place this filling, we clean all decay from the tooth and puts a bonding material on the inside of the hole. The tooth coloured filling is then placed into the hole in thin layers. Each layer gets hard with the help of a special light that we holds over the tooth. When the last layer of the filling is hard, we then shape the filling so it looks and feels natural.
- These fillings will be the same colour as your natural teeth.
- They cost less than gold fillings.
- They are direct fillings, so they can be done in one appointment, in most cases.
- They are just as strong as your own tooth
I cannot think of any at the time of this writing, except they take a little longer to do and cost a bit more.
2. Porcelain Materials
Porcelain materials are the most common type of dental ceramic used by dentists. They are hard and aesthetic. Porcelain on top of metal can be combined to make a strong, tooth-coloured crown.
Dental porcelain is made in a dental lab. A combination of porcelain and metal can be used anywhere in the mouth.
- Dental porcelain is the same colour as natural teeth.
- These restorations last a long time.
- They are indirect fillings, so at least two appointments will be needed.
- They cost more than most other types of fillings.
If your tooth is damaged but not lost, a crown (also called a cap) can be used to cover the damaged part of your tooth. A crown protects your tooth from further damage. You may need a crown if:
- you have a root canal;
- you have a large filling in a tooth;
- you have a broken tooth; or
- your tooth is badly stained, not the right shape or out of line.
Crowns can be made of different kinds of metals, porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. They are strong and last for about 10 years, if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth.
But crowns and replacement teeth may not be as strong as your natural teeth, so:
- do not bite down on hard objects;
- do not use your teeth to open or cut things; and
- do not do these things with your natural teeth either.
Here's how a crown is made:
We may make a mold (or an impression) of your tooth to fit a temporary crown. It protects your tooth until the final, permanent crown is ready. Temporary crowns may not have the same shape and colour as permanent ones.
We may give you freezing (called a local anesthetic). We then smooth down your tooth to make room for the crown.
Another mold (or impression) is taken of the prepared tooth and nearby teeth. Then the temporary crown is placed over your tooth and you are sent on your way.
This mold is sent to a dental lab, where your permanent crown is custom-made. The mold of your tooth is used to make a model. The new permanent crown is then made on the model by a ceramist.
On your next visit, we take off the temporary crown and puts on the permanent one. Then we check to make sure the crown is the right fit, shape and colour. If it is, we then cement the crown into place. Your tooth will look and work very much like a natural tooth.
These are the steps we most often follow in making a crown, but your tooth may need special care. You may need orthodontic treatment or gum treatment. It may take more than two visits to your dentist or your visits may last longer.