Dental Fillings for Cavities
Have you been told that you have a cavity? If so, you’ve probably also been told that you need a filling to repair it! A dental filling is a very routine procedure that we perform almost every day at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics. We place dental fillings for patients of all ages, from toddlers with early childhood caries to grandparents with aging teeth.
Our goal with dental fillings is to:
- Remove all decay from the tooth
- Repair any damage that occurred
- Restore the tooth to full function
Patients are able to eat and speak normally immediately after the procedure, and any pain from the cavity is completely eliminated as soon as the filling is placed.
Types of Dental Fillings
Fillings are made to last a very long time. In fact, it is not unusual for a filling to last many years or even decades.Patients have two options when it comes to fillings:
- Silver amalgam is a traditional type of filling made of a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. It is often called a “silver-colored” filling because of the way it looks, and it is the best choice for cavities below the gum line or on the back teeth (where there is a lot of force from chewing). Silver amalgam fillings are the least expensive option and can be placed very quickly into the tooth.
- Composite resin is often preferred by patients because it is tooth-colored and almost invisible. These days composite resin is used more often than silver amalgam, frequently because of the cosmetic benefits.However this type of filling costs more than silver amalgam and may not last quite as long. In addition, some dental insurance carriers will not cover the cost of composite resin fillings.
If you’re not sure which type of filling is best for you, your dentist will help you decide. The appropriate filling for your cavity depends on its location, its size, your personal cosmetic preferences, and your level of insurance coverage.
Getting a Dental Filling
Dental fillings are always completed in a single office visit. First the dentist numbs your tooth with a local anesthetic. Then he or she removes all decay using tools like drills and lasers. Once the decay is removed, the tooth is completely cleaned of bacteria and debris to prepare it for the filling.
The final step in your appointment is to place the filling onto the tooth and allow it to harden. This process is different depending on the type of filling you have chosen:
- Silver amalgam fillings are created by mixing a powdered alloy (a mixture of metals) with liquid mercury to form a putty. The dentist places the putty onto the tooth and shapes it by hand. The new filling then hardens rapidly on its own.
- Composite resin fillings must be placed in layers and cured with a special light at each step of the layering process. Once the layers are complete, the dentist will need to trim off any excess material and polish the filling.
Your tooth can be used normally immediately following the procedure. You should not need further treatment for a long time unless a cavity develops elsewhere on the tooth.
Do Dental Fillings Hurt?
A dental filling is a very routine procedure performed under a local anesthetic, so it should not cause any pain or discomfort. However, we have a number of options at Rodeo Dental for nervous kids and adults to help with anxiety and make sure your visit is completely pain-free!Be sure to ask us before your appointment about sedation dentistry and pain-free shots with DentalVibe.
Should I Worry About the Mercury in Silver Amalgam Fillings?
Many people have concerns about the mercury content in silver amalgam fillings. However, the mercury in a dental filling is combined with other metals. This creates a very stable, safe material that poses no health risk to patients.
The following organizations agree that scientific data shows silver amalgam fillings to be both safe and effective:
- The American Dental Association
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U. S. Food and Drug Administration
- World Health Organization
In addition, these prominent health organizations have stated that silver amalgam fillings pose no risk to health:
- Alzheimer’s Association
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Autism Society of America
- Mayo Clinic
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
If you have additional questions or concerns about the safety of fillings, be sure to talk to your dentist before your appointment.