What Are Dental Fillings?
If you’ve developed cavities, fillings can save the affected teeth from further decay. Dental fillings are used to fill holes and cracks in teeth where bacteria and food particles can accumulate and cause infection.
The filling procedure can be completed with or without root canal therapy. Even if a root canal isn’t required, it’s important to have cavities filled to prevent further damage to your teeth.
Types of Fillings
A variety of materials may be used for fillings, each with distinct qualities like longevity, appearance, and expense. Dr. Rangel and his team will help you determine which kind of filling is right for you based on your needs and budget.
Gold fillings, while often the most expensive choice, are often favored by dentists and patients. They are well tolerated by gum tissue and can last upwards of 20 years.
Gold fillings are sturdy and strong, but cannot be altered to match the color of your teeth. This means they’re more visible than composite or porcelain fillings and better suited for repairing less visible areas like the back teeth.
Amalgam (Silver) Fillings
Amalgam or silver fillings are widely used because they are less expensive than gold, but are still well tolerated by gum tissue.
Like gold fillings, silver fillings are darker in color and more noticeable than composite or porcelain fillings. Because of their high visibility, they are not recommended for fillings in very visible areas like front teeth. Some patients prefer to avoid amalgam fillings due to concerns about their mercury content.
Composite (Plastic) Resin Fillings
Composite or plastic resin fillings can be altered to better match the appearance of your teeth. Unlike gold and silver, composite fillings are more fragile, lasting three to ten years. They’re susceptible to staining and are unfit for larger fillings, where they’re more likely to crack or chip.
Porcelain Fillings (Inlays and Onlays)
Porcelain fillings, also called inlays and onlays, are stain resistant, created to blend in with your natural smile, and can cover the entirety of the tooth. They cost about as much as gold fillings and last anywhere from ten to fifteen years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Fillings, especially gold and silver fillings, can react to hot and cold. Metal fillings may shrink and expand rapidly with the differences in temperature. Overtime, the persistent shrinking and expansion of metal fillings can lead to increased sensitivity and breakage in the tooth.
Composite resin and porcelain fillings better protect against sensitivity because they expand and contract at about the same rate as your natural teeth. You may feel sensitivity in fillings for up to four weeks after treatment. If you experience sensitivity in your fillings lasting longer than four weeks, contact us immediately.
Gold and silver fillings take at least 24 hours to fully set. Porcelain and composite fillings are exposed to a blue UV light, which causes it to harden immediately. With non-metal fillings, you can usually eat again as soon as you leave the office, but waiting two hours is often recommended.
No matter what kind of filling you get, wait for your anesthetic to wear off before you eat again. This will help you avoid biting down too hard on your lips, cheeks, tongue, or your new restorations.
Some foods that are safe to eat after getting a filling include:
- Cooked vegetables
Even after your filling has completely set, you should avoid certain foods and drinks for at least a week. Reintroducing certain items into your diet too soon can impede your recovery, increase sensitivity, or damage your filling.
Common foods to avoid during this time include foods that are hard, crunchy or chewy. And drinks that are hot, alcoholic, and sugary.
Even if you don’t experience tooth pain, an untreated cavity can become larger over time. This increases the likelihood of developing more advanced tooth decay.
Waiting until you experience pain to receive a filling often means your tooth has reached its worst point. At this stage, you may require root canal therapy, a more invasive and painful procedure.
Stop Tooth Decay, Schedule Your Appointment Today!
Treating tooth decay as soon as possible will benefit the longevity of your oral health. Don’t let tooth decay advance any further. Call our Odessa, TX office at (432) 333-6169. Dr. Rangel and our team will show you how fillings can help keep your teeth functional and beautiful.
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