Dental Fillings: Procedure & Costs
Are you concerned that you may have holes or cavities in your teeth? Do you experience pain when brushing certain teeth or sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods? You may have tooth decay that requires a dental filling. Dental fillings help to restore your teeth and relieve the pain associated with cavities.
Having been used for centuries as a solution for replacing tooth structure lost to decay, dental fillings are one of the most commonly performed dental treatments across the world.
What are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings help to restore cavities and bring a damaged tooth back to its usual function and shape. These fillings plug the holes in our teeth caused by decay and wear, ensuring teeth are healthy and can continue functioning without further decay or becoming a bigger issue.
Fillings are used to restore teeth to their normal shape, appearance and function by filling in cavities caused by tooth decay. Fissure sealants are of value in the prevention of tooth decay as they fill in the natural pits and fissures in the back (molar) teeth where dental decay occurs most often.
Fillings are more often required in the molar (back) teeth where decay rates are higher. The need for fillings due to tooth decay can be eliminated by correctly cleaning your teeth and maintaining a healthy diet. Regular dental health check-ups will make sure any problems are identified and treated early.
The types of filling material used by your dentist may include:
- tooth-coloured fillings
- dental amalgam (silver coloured)
Other forms of tooth restoration, such as gold or ceramic crowns, are an expensive alternative to amalgam and tooth-coloured filling materials.
Tooth-coloured (white) fillings have been used in front teeth for cosmetic reasons for many years. Recent improvements in filling materials for back teeth mean these are now more affordable and widely used as an alternative to dental amalgam.
Silver fillings (dental amalgam)
Dental amalgam (‘silver filling’) is an inexpensive and highly durable material commonly used for filling teeth. Modern dental amalgam is a metal alloy that is generally made up of mercury, silver and tin, with small amounts of copper and zinc.
A dental sealant is a tooth-coloured plastic film that is professionally applied to the deep grooves (fissures) on the back teeth (molars) where tooth decay most often starts.
The bacteria in plaque live in these grooves and make acid which causes tooth decay. Dental sealants assist in preventing the build up of plaque acids on the enamel surface of teeth and they are of value in the prevention of tooth decay.
A good time to apply sealants is soon after permanent teeth are fully erupted (after 13 years of age). Discuss with an oral health professional whether this will be beneficial to you. Fluoride and fluoridated water also play a key role in protecting the teeth against tooth decay.
- The chewing surface of a molar contains natural pits and grooves (fissures) where dental decay occurs most often. The bristles of a toothbrush are too large to reach into some of these areas.
- The tooth is thoroughly cleaned and dried before applying the sealant.
- The liquid sealant is placed onto the surface of the tooth and flows into the pits and fissures. The liquid is then set with an ultra violet light
- The pits and fissures are now sealed and the tooth surface is smooth and easy to keep clean.