Restorations (Fillings)

What are tooth restorations?

Tooth restorations are the various ways your dentist can replace missing teeth or repair missing parts of the tooth structure.

When would I need a dental restoration?

Tooth structure can be missing due to decay, deteriorations of a previously places restoration, or fracture of a tooth.

What are the different restorations types?

Examples of dental restorations include: Fillings, Crowns, Bridges, Implants and Dentures.

What are Fillings?

Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration. Teeth can be filled with gold, silver amalgam, or tooth-colored plastic materials called composite resin fillings.

When are Fillings needed?

To treat a cavity your dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then “fill” the are on the tooth where the decayed material was removed. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and have been word down from misuse such as nail-biting or teeth grinding.

What steps are involved in a tooth filling?

First, if needed, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. Next, with a drill or air abrasion instrument the dentist will removed the decayed area. Once the decay, bacteria and debris has been removed the dentist will prepare the space for the filling. Generally, after the filling is in, your dentist will trim off any excess material, finish and polish the final restoration.

What types of Filling materials are available?

Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold; porcelain; silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper); or tooth-colored, plastic, and materials called composite resin fillings. There is also a material that contains glass particles and is known as glass ionomer. This material is used in ways similar to the use of composite resin fillings.

The location and extent of the decay, cost of filling material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist’s recommendation assist in determining the type of filling best for you.

What are temporary Fillings?

Temporary fillings are used under the following circumstances:

  • For fillings that require more than one appointment — for example, before placement of gold fillings and for certain filling procedures (called indirect fillings) that use composite materials
  • Following a root canal
  • To allow a tooth’s nerve to “settle down” if the pulp became irritated
  • If emergency dental treatment is needed (such as to address a toothache)

Temporary fillings are just that; they are not meant to last. They usually fall out, fracture, or wear out within a month. Be sure to contact your dentist to have a temporary filling replaced with a permanent one. If you don’t, the tooth could become infected or you could have other complications.

How should I care for my teeth with Fillings?

To maintain fillings, you should follow good oral hygiene, visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash at least once daily. If your dentist suspects that a filling might be cracked or is “leaking” (when the sides of the filling don’t fit tightly against the tooth, this allows debris and saliva to seep down between the filling and the tooth, which can lead to decay), your dentist will take X-rays to assess the situation. If your tooth is extremely sensitive, if you feel a sharp edge, if you notice a crack in the filling, or if a piece of the filling is missing, call us for an appointment.

Can I experience tooth pain and sensitivity after the Fillings are done?

Tooth sensitivity following placement of a filling is fairly common. A tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods, or temperature. Usually, the sensitivity resolves on its own within a few weeks. During this time, avoid those things that are causing the sensitivity. Pain relievers are generally not required.

Contact your dentist if the sensitivity does not subside within two to four weeks or if your tooth is extremely sensitive. He or she may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste, may apply a desensitizing agent to the tooth, or possibly suggest a root canal procedure.

Pain around the fillings can also occur. If you experience pain when you bite, the filling may be interfering with your bite. You will need to return to your dentist and have the filling reshaped. If you experience pain when your teeth touch, the pain is likely caused by the touching of two different metal surfaces (for example, the silver amalgam in a newly filled tooth and a gold crown on another tooth with which it touches). This pain should resolve on its own within a short period of time.