You go to the dentist and find out that, despite your best efforts, you have a cavity that needs to be filled. A cavity means that the enamel around your tooth has broken down and then the dentin in your tooth has become decayed. If left alone, the decaying could worsen and result in your needing a root canal. The filling stops that.
But what exactly is a filling made of? What were they made of throughout history? Do you have a choice of what will be put in your mouth now? How safe will it be? Read on to learn more.
We need to go way back to start off. The first dental filling of any kind dates back about 6,000 years ago. Someone was found with a filling that had been made from beeswax. Then around 201 AD, gold fillings were used.
Amalgam fillings made of mercury were first made in England in 1819. Over the decades, various amounts of research showed the dangers of mercury poisoning from these fillings. The silver amalgam fillings of today do have a bit of mercury, but it’s also mixed with silver, zinc, copper, and tin.
You can choose between the previously mentioned silver amalgam, gold, porcelain, plastic, and composite resin. There are things to consider, though – where you’re going to get the filling, what your insurance will cover, and what your dentist thinks will be the best material to get the job done. Here are some pros and cons of each:
- Gold – They are quite durable and can last up to 15 years. They don’t corrode and some like how they look. Expect to pay more for these fillings and also to have at least two appointments for this. Make sure that a gold filling is not next to a silver one, otherwise you might get a literal shock called a galvanic shock. Although it’s rare, it can happen.
- Silver Amalgams – These also rate highly when it comes to their durability. People also like their prices – though they don’t match one’s natural teeth. The dentist also has to clear out more healthy tooth than the other materials. Sometimes they also make the surrounding tooth look gray. You risk cracks and fractures from drinking a hot or cold beverage. Some people have allergies to silver too – though the chances are slim.
- Tooth-colored – People like these since they match the tooth color. The bonding process is easy and can be used for chipped or broken teeth, too. A drawback is that they are not as strong as the other two. The process takes longer, too and can be more expensive.
You can choose from ceramic ones (porcelain), which can be more abrasive and cost as much as the gold ones, and ones made of glass ionomer, which are made from glass and acrylic. Usually dental insurance will pay the cost up until silver or gold. Then you pay the difference.
The first thing that the dentist will do is use a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be filled. Then they use a drill to remove all the decay from the tooth. Depending on their skill level, they may choose to use an air abrasion instrument or a laser. There are other factors that go into this decision, including where the cavity is located in the mouth as well as how extensive the decay is.
Next, the dentist tests the tooth to make sure all the decay is gone. Depending on how deep and close to the root the decay got, the dentist may first line the area with something like composite resin or glass ionomer. The tooth-colored fillings are done in layers, and a special light is used to harden it. After finishing, the dentist wil polish the filling.
There is also something called indirect fillings, which are made in a dental lab. You need to make two visits. They can be done when you don’t have enough tooth structure for a filling but you don’t need a crown. The dentist makes an impression of the tooth after any old fillings are taken out and then the indirect filling is made.
When it comes to the fillings, size does matter. You may have a very large cavity, and if the dentist drilled the decay out and put in the filling, it could wind up cracking the tooth. In order to avoid that, you may wind up getting a dental crown on top of the tooth to protect it.
Do you live in the Columbus, Ohio area and have a filling that needs to be done? Come to the US Dental Medical office and have the expert staff treat you. They will skillfully put in the filling and make sure that the whole process goes smoothly. Give them a call today to make an appointment – 614-252-3181.