We have so many things in our lives to be thankful for that we can’t name them all. Many we don’t think about until we don’t have them. We know our bias, but we think oral health fits into that category. Halitosis, abscessed tooth, periodontitis, toothache, cracked tooth, TMJ, even just a mouth sore - these and more can be symptoms of compromised oral health. Well, somewhere between a treatment as simple as a cleaning and as severe as an extraction there lies…fillings! And while fillings are not Plan A in dental care, we are thankful to have them.
There are different types of fillings, but they all aim to stop decay and restore a tooth to a healthy state. When the bacteria that causes erosion and cavities gets deep enough or in the wrong places, damage and pain often follow. A filling stops the process. How does it work, you ask.
When dentists identify an area that needs a filling, through examination and x-rays, they usually discuss options for treatment. Once they determine what filling will be used, they remove the decayed portions of the tooth, clean and treat the area, then fill the cavity with one of the four main types of fillings. The dentists will now contour the material to match the perfect shape for the tooth - adjusting the bite till the upper and lower teeth meet as they should. This reduces the pain and unnecessary wear of the teeth as they come together in a bite. Now that the cavity is filled and the material is shaped, the tooth is restored to its full strength.
The reason we should be thankful for fillings is because without them, the next steps are often abscesses and root canals, along with significant discomfort. A filling stops the advance of the bacteria and saves the tooth.
Composite fillings match the color of the tooth, but unlike the porcelain option, composite can stain. They also don’t last as long as the other three types of fillings. But for patients with smaller cavities or a tight budget, these less expensive, composite resin materials are a great option.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are used because they are both durable and also inexpensive. The downside of amalgam fillings is their appearance. The silver coloring can stand out in some teeth. For this reason, porcelain and composite materials have become increasingly popular.
Gold fillings, like the silver of the amalgam, are not as aesthetically desirable as the others. They are also more expensive. However, gold is extremely durable, often lasting decades in a healthy tooth. They give little trouble and come molded specifically for each patient’s tooth. Depending on the position and size of the cavity, gold is an excellent choice in many situations.
Porcelain fillings find their popularity due largely to their aesthetics. They match tooth color well and maintain that color for many years. Porcelain onlays and inlays make up the most common applications, so they tend to be bonded and used for larger cavities. Porcelain fillings cost more than their silver and composite counterparts, but for patients needing the natural look, they are the best option.
At Carolina Family Dental, we always recommend prevention as the best means to a happy mouth. Yet when the time comes for restorative treatment, we are sure thankful we have fillings in our metaphorical toolbelt. If you think you may need dental attention or want to get on the preventative route with our regular cleanings and checkups, contact us. We are well trained, well equipped, and we love our patients!