What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are a restorative dental procedure that repairs teeth that have cavities. Fillings can also be used to repair teeth that are fractured. The dental filling material is prepped and then placed inside the fracture or hole to help restore function and prevent further tooth decay.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
There are several types of dental fillings, each with its own unique benefits:
- Glass Ionomer.
Composite and amalgam are the most common types used in dentistry.
How Much Do Fillings Usually Cost?
The actual cost of dental fillings varies depending on the type, tooth location, and complexity of the case. Amalgam fillings are more affordable than ceramic or gold. Your dental insurance may cover all or a percentage of the filling.
What To Expect Before Getting a Dental Filling
Before getting a dental filling, your teeth will be examined to determine which ones need repaired. X-rays may also be performed to determine the depth of the cavity or fracture. Once your examination is complete, your dentist will discuss which type of filling is best. They will also explain the procedure and address any questions or concerns you may have.
What To Expect While Getting a Dental Filling
During the procedure, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic around the tooth that needs to be filled. If there is decay, that will be removed, and your tooth will be prepared for the filling material. After filling the tooth, it will be polished to ensure that it is comfortable when biting and eating.
What To Expect After Getting a Dental Filling
After your tooth or teeth are filled, you will be given instructions for aftercare. In general, you should avoid extremely hot and cold food or beverages. You should also continue to practice oral care at home and return for dental cleanings every six months.
How Long Can a Tooth-Colored Filling Last?
White composite resin fillings can last from five years to more than 10 years. There are several factors that influence the long-term results of your restorative treatment. Keep in mind, this is true of silver fillings, crowns, and all types of dental restoration. In addition to the size and location of the filling, results are affected by factors such as:
- Your oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth as advised by your dentist is just as important for the areas around composite fillings as for teeth that have never been damaged. Your filling covers only a portion of your tooth, so new decay can form around it. Brushing and flossing properly around the filling can protect its margins and help it last longer.
- Personal habits. There is a greater chance of your filling wearing down more quickly if you have a habit of biting or chewing on hard objects. This can damage a filling or any other restoration just as it can your natural teeth.
- Bruxism. You may not bite or chew hard objects like ice, but if you clench or grind your teeth, your fillings may not last as long as they could otherwise. Talk to your dentist about this aspect of your oral health. A brief exam can identify signs of bruxism if you’re not sure whether you do it. Bruxism usually occurs during sleep, so you may not be aware of your habit. If you do clench or grind, your dentist can make a comfortable night guard to wear when you sleep to protect not only your fillings but your teeth and gums.
Can a White Filling Develop Stains?
You know that your natural teeth can change color over time due to the foods and beverages you consume. You may not be aware of this potential for your fillings. Yes, white fillings can become stained at some point. Usually, this doesn’t occur as quickly as discoloration builds up on natural enamel. Also, it may occur differently than is normal for your natural teeth. When a composite filling stains, the discoloration may localize around the edges of the filling. If your white filling is in the “smile zone,” discolored edges can become concerning.
Composite fillings can turn dull or yellow over time but this material cannot be whitened like enamel can. This is an important aspect of white fillings to understand. To enhance the overall appearance of your smile, you may want to have your teeth whitened prior to receiving a white filling in a visible area of your mouth. This way, your filling can be color matched to your most radiant, attractive smile!
Will Insurance Cover the Cost of Tooth-Colored Fillings?
Over time, more insurance companies have begun extending some amount of coverage for tooth-colored fillings. Your insurance company may have specific parameters around this, so it’s important that you contact them directly for details. In many cases, a company will cover the cost of a tooth-colored filling up to the same amount it would an amalgam filling. You would then be responsible for the difference.