What is Dental Filling?
Dental Filling is done to restore the missing tooth structure caused by Dental caries or Trauma. Dental Filling normally fills up the gap created by the caries or trauma, and also safeguard the tooth from any further damage.
Indications of Dental Filling?
A dental Filling is done in the following cases:
· Decayed tooth.
· Dark lines or spots on the tooth surface.
· If food items stuck in any part of the tooth.
· Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet items and there is no pain.
· Chipped or Broken tooth.
How is the Dental Filling done?
· At first, thorough inspection of the tooth is done by the Restorative Dentist. Assessment is done to analyze the extent of damage to the tooth and the amount of tooth structure lost.
· An x-ray might be done on-spot if the cavity is very deep and there is a chance of touching the pulp section of the tooth.
· For small cavities we do not use Local Anesthesia; but with deep cavities and sensitivity the teeth are anesthetized before undergoing the procedure.
· Decayed and damaged portion is removed with hand piece along with preparing the tooth for future restoration.
· The prepared cavity is filled with the filling material. The type of filling material (chemical-based, resin or light-cured composite also called Laser Filling) is decided upon the amount of lost tooth structure, depth of filling, the location of tooth and patient factor.
· Finally the finishing and polishing of the tooth is done.
If Filling is not done and avoided?
The Dental Filling should be done as soon as the cavity is detected in order to restore the tooth with minimal loss. The caries start in the Enamel and continue eroding the tooth to reach Dentin. Here the patient starts feeling Sensitivity in the tooth. Further delay would let the cavity reach the Dental Pulp. Here the tooth infection may begin causing pain, inflammation and the infection may spread to the surrounding teeth and bone. At that stage Root Canal Treatment or Tooth Extraction are the options left.
Types of Dental Fillings
There are many types of filling materials that could be used to restore the tooth and there are indications to use them in different situations.
· Metal Filling
o This is the conventional filling. Silver Filling is the common one, but Gold Filling gives more promising results. Both the fillings are not tooth-coloured
· Amalgam Filling
o This is the most commonly used filling worldwide. Combination of metals is used in it combined to form the Amalgam. There have been numerous researches on the material highlighting the good and bad of choosing it. Amalgam filling is also silver-grey in color and do not match the tooth color.
· Glass Ionomer Cement (GIC)
o This one bonds chemically with the tooth. It is white in color matching more to the shade of tooth. But there are not many shade options in it.
· Composite Filling
o This commonly known as Laser Filling. The material uses UV light to polymerize into a hard tooth-colored mass. Preferred material for anterior teeth where shade-matching is necessary. Also used when a piece of tooth is chipped or broken down.
Precautions after Dental Filling?
· Do not chew on the tooth until the effect of anesthesia has worn off.
· Avoid hard and sticky food for a couple of days.
· If there is slight pain on chewing after few days, or the tooth remains sensitive then you should visit the dentist and not assume it will get better by its own.
· For people having habit of teeth grinding, should use mouth guard to protect the filling from damage.
· Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and mouthwash.
· Visit your dentist every six months to ensure the filling is going well.
What is the life of Dental Filling?
The longevity of dental filling depends on the type of material used, the location, depth and size of cavity on the tooth and personal chewing habits. Average life of a good dental filling ranges from 10 to 20 years.