A toothfilling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by tooth decay back to its normal shape and function. The procedure requires the dentist to first remove the decayed part of the tooth, clean the affected area and fill the cleaned out tooth cavity with a dental filling material. By closing off the space where bacteria can enter the tooth, the filling also helps prevent further tooth decay. Typical materials used for tooth fillings include composite resin (also called composite white tooth fillings) and amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc). Some dentists also use gold tooth fillings, however this is not very common.
Composite white tooth fillings are tooth-coloured fillings – they provide good resistance and durability to fracture in small to medium sized build-ups, given they need to withstand pressure from the stress of constant chewing. They are a good option for patients who prefer natural looking fillings. Composite tooth fillings are used by a vast majority of our patients, despite cost more than amalgam fillings. They are more aesthetically pleasing and provide patients with a natural white smile, blending in with the natural colour of the patients teeth. It’s worth noting that no tooth filling lasts forever and may need to be replaced after a few years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of tooth filling will be best for me?
Different types of fillings are used under different circumstances. No one type of filling will be best for every patient. What is right for a patient is part determined by how large the decay is, whether the patient suffers from allergies to certain dental materials, on which tooth the filling is needed, and also the cost. Some of the typical considerations for different tooth filling materials include:
Composite tooth fillings (or white tooth fillings) are applied to match the colour and shade of the patient’s teeth and are therefore used when a natural appearance to the tooth filling is desired. The tooth filling ingredients are mixed by the dentist and directly placed into the tooth cavity, where the material then hardens. Composites tooth fillings sometimes are not be the ideal tooth filling material for large cavities as the filling material may chip or wear with time. Composite tooth fillings can also get stained from beverages such as coffee or tea and also tobacco.
Amalgam or silver tooth fillings are more resistant to wear and tear as compared to composite tooth fillings and are also relatively inexpensive. However, they are dark in colour and are therefore more noticeable than composite tooth fillings. Amalgam tooth fillings are therefore not typically used in visible areas of the patients smile line, such as on the front tooth.
Gold tooth fillings are fillings that are made to order in a dental lab and then cemented into place on the patients tooth. Gold inlays are tolerated well by gum tissues, and can last as long as 20 years. As a result, many dental organisations consider gold tooth fillings as the best filling material. However, gold tooth fillings are typically the most expensive option and require multiple visits to the dentist.
Porcelain tooth fillings are also called onlays and inlays; they are typically produced to order in a dental laboratory and then cemented to the patients tooth. Porcelain tooth fillings can be matched exactly to the colour of the patients tooth and are highly resistant to staining. A porcelain tooth fillings typically covers most of the surface of the tooth and their cost is similar to that of gold tooth fillings.
What does the dentist do during a tooth filling procedure?
If you have been diagnosed as having tooth decay, the dentist will first remove the decayed part of the tooth and then clean the affected area. The dentist will then fill the cleaned-out tooth cavity with any one of the tooth filling material described above. The actual tooth filling material used will depend on your individual circumstances and the dentist will typically provide you various options available to you along with the associated cost. You will then be able to choose what tooth filling material to use.
How will I know that I need a tooth filling?
Typically, tooth decay is diagnosed as part of a dental exam that a patient will have with a dentist. The dentist will perform a thorough check of the patient’s mouth and gums to determine if the patient suffers from tooth decay on any of their teeth. During the exam, the dentist will examine the surfaces of each tooth using a small mirror. If the dentist finds anything that looks a little abnormal, they will closely check it with special instruments. The dentist may also take an x-rays of the patients’ entire mouth or a part of it to identify any hidden decay. If the dentist detects any tooth decay, they will inform the patient of their findings and suggest remedial actions, one of which could be a tooth filling. The treatment type that the dentist recommends will depend on the nature and extent of the damage caused by tooth decay.
Dr. Deepa, our practice principal, is an experienced dentist with approx. 15 years of dental experience. She is very skilled and has the gentlest of touch. She has treated many cases of tooth decay and tooth fillings over the years and will be very happy to assist you if you suffer from tooth decay.
Whites Dental provides Tooth Filling treatments including composite white fillings to patients in our vicinity in London Waterloo. We are located in London Waterloo SE1, adjacent to Southwark Tube station. We are also a 10 minutes’ walk from LondonBridge, Waterloo station, Southbank, Borough and Elephant and Castle stations. Please visit our homepage for more details about our Tooth Filling treatments.