A dental filling, also known as a dental restoration, is a procedure used to repair minor fractures, wear, or decay in the teeth, as a form of restorative dental treatment.
Wear and tear are inevitable in the lifespan of your teeth, especially those teeth that do most of the heavy chewing of food. Regular cleaning, examinations, check-ups, and a healthy diet can help with the prevention of dental problems and tooth decay. If required, a dental filling can help to even out the surface of the tooth and improve the function of the jaw for chewing and biting.
Receiving a tooth filling, or sometimes multiple dental fillings at one visit is a straightforward procedure that can be done in a short period. Your dentist or oral health professional will prepare the tooth and remove any decay with a drill (a dental handpiece) or instrument. Once the tooth is ready, it is then cleaned, dried, and sealed up with the dental filling material.
The types of dental fillings
There are several types of dental fillings (also known as dental restorations). Often dental fillings are called restorations as they are designed to restore the function and aesthetics of your teeth in your mouth.
Dental restorations can be made of composite resin (white fillings), amalgam (silver/mercury fillings), porcelain and gold. Each type of dental restoration/ filling has its purpose in dentistry, and it is best to discuss which type of dental restoration is best for your specific situation.
Composite resin dental restorations are very common as they offer a robust, cost-effective, aesthetic, and same-day solution to many dental issues. Amalgam dental restorations also provide a robust restoration, however, are silver/grey in appearance and as such, do not look aesthetic in your mouth.
Other types of dental restorations include porcelain and gold restorations; these options are more robust than composite resin and amalgam and are used in many situations as they can offer a better long-term prognosis to some teeth.
As each person has a unique set of teeth, it is advisable to discuss what type of dental filling is best suited to your situation.
FAQ Dental Fillings
There is a lot to think about before you get a dental filling. We recommend that you book a consultation with your dentist and discuss your dental restoration options.
Dental restoration offers a fast, conservative and convenient solution for certain dental problems such as cavities, teeth wear and cosmetics. Whilst they are a good and versatile option, they are not the only option. Your oral health professional will be able to discuss all the options available to you.
Apart from conventional fillings, your health professional may decide on alternatives such as crowns (also known as teeth caps) or onlays (in essence a ½ or ¾ crown) fabricated out of porcelain or gold.
A filling’s lifespan depends on a large variety of factors. In general, smaller fillings can last anywhere up to 10 years (possibly longer if well cared for and maintained).
Children can also get dental fillings. Like adults, maintaining oral health with children is important. It is a misconception that children do not need fillings as their baby teeth are going to fall out anyway. If baby teeth are lost too early, children can struggle with eating, have nutrition issues, and crowding, which may require orthodontic treatment in the future to correct.
Yes, we do offer temporary fillings. These are often reserved for certain scenarios, and it is advised to discuss this with your dental professional so a tailored customised treatment plan can be made that are catered for your needs and circumstance.
Dental Surgeon BChD(Leeds), MFDS RCS (Edin) PgCert (Endodontics)
In the majority of cases, patients feel better after a dental filling because the filling is necessary and completed to remove infected matter or to repair a broken tooth. Some patients can experience heightened tooth sensitivity after a dental filling. Triggers for this often include very hot or very cold drinks, or cold air hitting the tooth. This is not common, is usually short-lived and mostly occurs only with deeper fillings. It will usually resolve on its own. If it doesn’t or if the pain is severe, you should contact your dentist.
A dental filling procedure can take between 20 minutes and 60 minutes, depending on the location and extent of the decay and size of the filling. Dentists always strive to provide you with the highest quality dental filling. Some areas of the mouth are harder to access, and some dental fillings take longer to prepare and place. Restorations at the front of the mouth require more polishing to ensure the result is of the highest aesthetic standard. The actual filling process does not take the entire appointment time. The dentist will also explain the procedure in detail, provide local anaesthetic (if required) and allow time for it to take effect within the allocated appointment time.
Constant pressure from chewing, grinding or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip or crack over time. The location of the filling can increase the risk of fracture. Generally, back teeth are under more pressure from the bite, although this isn’t always the case. Having missing teeth can mean the remaining teeth get more loaded, and dental fillings in these teeth tend to crack more frequently. If a dental filling covers more than 50 per cent of the tooth, the material is under more strain and so has an increased risk of fracture.
If hard foods, like nuts, are eaten frequently and if undesirable habits, like nail-biting, occur, the risk of dental filling breaking increases. If the dental filling is not maintained with good oral hygiene, it can break due to tooth decay. No dental filling lasts forever, and they need to be monitored regularly – they are therefore reviewed at every examination by a dentist. Excellent oral hygiene helps to prevent fillings from breaking, and regular examinations at the dentist help to ensure fillings are functioning as they should.
Dentists will often recommend alternatives to larger fillings, for example, onlays or crowns as these are much stronger.
Yes. A topical gel can be applied to the gum surface before the liquid anaesthetic, reducing the awareness of the anaesthetic delivery. Your dentist will always test that the anaesthetic has taken effect before proceeding with the preparation of the dental filling. The anaesthetic allows the dentist to complete the dental filling without causing any pain. You should not feel anything more than slight pressure during dental fillings.
Dental fillings can range from $100 to $390, and several factors determine this; the location of the tooth, the material used for the filling and the number of surfaces involved all contribute to the fee calculated. Dentists use codes that correlate to different types of fillings. For example, a small filling at the front of the mouth only involving one surface of the tooth (code 521) will cost less than a large filling on a large back tooth involving several surfaces (code 533). If you have private health insurance or a specific dental plan, the fees charged for each code are often dictated by your fund or scheme.
Dental Surgeon BDSc. Melb
Yes, dental fillings can fracture, break or fall out if there is a problem with the dental filling. The dental filling may be old, or there may be decay underneath the filling.
If a dental filling falls out or comes loose, you should see a dentist have this assessed. If left, it allows decay to either develop, or spread further, and this may lead to pain and further complications. Usually, the filling can be replaced if attended quickly.
Dental fillings are usually performed under a local anaesthetic which means that the procedure is not painful. You may feel pressure and vibration.
Regular dental check-ups will ensure any problems are identified and treated early. Call Dendy Village Dental today for an appointment on 03 9592 0583 to see one of our experienced dentists.