Reasons You May Need a Filling


Fillings are used to restore teeth damaged by decay or trauma. With a filling, your dentist can recreate your tooth’s original shape to bring back its normal function and appearance. Dental fillings are one of the most common procedures performed in dental offices and the go-to treatment for most cavities. However, not everyone knows what happens during a filling and the benefits of getting one.

One of the top reasons a filling is recommended is to treat a cavity. During a filling for a cavity, your dentist will drill out the decayed portion of the tooth. The tooth is then cleaned before applying a filling material. Fillings can last as few as five years up to 20 years or more with proper care.

Teeth that are fractured or contain small holes can also benefit from fillings. Fractures and holes in teeth can occur for a wide range of reasons, such as excessive wear and tear or trauma to the mouth. It is important to treat damaged teeth as soon as possible to prevent further damage or the accumulation of bacteria in the nooks and crannies. Other common reasons you may need fillings are for teeth grinding and discoloration.

Types of Dental Fillings

When you get a dental filling, you’ll have the option of several filling materials. Choosing the right type of filling will depend on a number of factors, such as the extent of the repair, the location of the tooth, your budget, and any allergies to filling materials. The most common filling materials used in dentistry include:

Amalgam (Silver) Fillings

Silver fillings are the most affordable type of filling material. However, due to their dark color, they are not recommended for front teeth.

Composite Resin Fillings

Instead of using silver fillings on front teeth which can be unsightly, many dentists recommend composite resin fillings. These white fillings can be used anywhere in the mouth but are less durable than amalgam. This type of filling is best suited for small fillings.

Porcelain Fillings 

Also called inlays and onlays, porcelain dental fillings are custom made in a lab before being bonded to your teeth. Porcelain fillings are created to match your tooth color and to resist staining.

Gold Fillings

Similar to porcelain fillings, gold fillings are made-to-order and then cemented onto the affected teeth. Gum tissue typically tolerates gold inlays well and can last more than 20 years with proper care. However, gold is the costliest type of filling material.

What Happens During a Filling

The process of getting a dental filling begins with a local anesthetic. Your dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding area to ensure that you are comfortable and pain-free during the procedure. They may also create a barrier around the tooth using a rubber dam. The main benefit of using a rubber dam is to keep the tooth dry while preventing debris from falling into the mouth.

Once the anesthetic has taken effect, your dentist will remove the decay from the tooth. Also known as a dental drill, this tool releases water as it removes tooth structure which will be sucked up by a saliva ejector. Hand instruments will then be used to remove any remaining decay. After the decay has been fully removed, the dentist will place the dental filling and mold it into the proper shape.

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Once the filling has been completed, it can take several hours for the local anesthetic to completely wear off. During this time, it’s normal to feel some numbness so you should be careful when eating or drinking anything too hot to prevent burns. It is also normal to experience some tooth sensitivity which can last up to a week. If you continue to feel discomfort, speak with your dentist.

Dental health and wellness begin with a cavity-free mouth. To learn more about dental fillings or to schedule an appointment, contact Bonham Dental Arts.