Dental fillings are most often necessary in the case of a cavity. This is the most common application for fillings. If a cavity develops in a tooth, the damage to the tooth’s enamel and interior can lead to more severe health concerns. To repair the tooth and prevent further infection or tissue decay, dentists use special restorative measures. In particular, many situations call for a filler material to be placed inside the cavity and fill out the tissue lost to the cavity. By diagnosing a cavity and having it filled early on, one can avoid needing more drastic treatment such as a crown or root canal treatment.
When are Dental Fillings Necessary?
Fillings are a direct way to restore a tooth after a cavity develops. When the cavity breaches through the tooth enamel, it moves quickly through the interior of the tooth, hollowing out a substantial portion of the tooth. Dental fillings are most commonly known for their use of preventing or treating cavities. The use of fillings restores the interior of the tooth and removes any decayed tissue left inside the tooth. This helps prevent infection or additional damage to the interior.
Dental fillings are used in order to maintain, or save, the integrity of a tooth. In order to treat a cavity, your dentist has to remove the decayed part of the tooth. In the case of a cracked or worn out tooth, the damaged portion of the tooth may also be repaired with a filling. In severe cases this may require a root canal, a procedure in which a dental filling replaces the dental pulp within the tooth.
Dental Filling Types: Materials Used for Fillings
Several different materials are commonly used as dental fillings. Some of the most commonly known include several different types of metal. Although these metals are not nearly as malleable as other filling materials, their strength and safety often make them preferable. In particular, silver, chrome, titanium, and gold are generally selected as safe metals. However, gold may not be used as often because of the cost of the filling.
Many people wonder whether dental fillings are safe. The idea that dental fillings are toxic has come from materials that were commonly used in years past, but are not often used today. Traditionally, the most common dental fillings were gold or silver amalgam. Silver amalgam is a mixture of silver, zinc, tin, copper, and mercury. Because of the toxicity of mercury, dentists are now using dental composites and porcelain. Even though these fillings are more expensive, they are much safer and don’t have the side effects.
Many patients are even opting to have their silver amalgam dental fillings replaced with porcelain or composite fillings. This not only enhances the visual aesthetics of the tooth, it also removes any risk associated with amalgam fillings. However, the removal and replacement procedure of silver amalgam fillings must be carefully completed by a dental filling specialist.
While there are several options available for restoring a tooth, fillings remain the most convenient, complete, and cost-efficient. Indirect methods, which do not involve the same intrusive process as fillings, can prove useful for some patients with truly extensive tooth decay. However, for most, fillings will suffice.
The Dental Filling Procedure
As with any dental procedure, the affected tooth must be prepared for the filling. The filling use will determine the intensity and length of the dental procedure. The type and category of dental fillings are divided into 6 classes, from Class I to Class VI. The classes designate the area of the tooth, direction of the filling, type of tooth, and type of filling. In general, there are two types of preparations:
- Intra Coronal – These are used to retain the filling inside of the crown of the tooth. This preparation is most commonly used in cavity restoration.
- Extra Coronal – These are instituted as a foundation on which a filling will be deposited in order to renew the structural integrity of a tooth. These are commonly used in dental crowns and veneers.
We have years of experience performing dental fillings. If you have a tooth ache or suspect that you might have a cavity or need a filling, the first step is to schedule an exam. If you’re in or near the Round Rock, TX area then call our office at (512) 310-0330 to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.