Have you been experiencing sudden toothaches or pain when you take a bite? Have you noticed black stains or pits in your teeth that cause sensitivity when eating or drinking anything hot or cold? These are symptoms of cavities – holes on your teeth destroyed over time by acid-forming plaque and cracked teeth.

Dental fillings are used to repair teeth damaged by tooth decay. These hard substances are also used to restore broken or cracked teeth caused by injuries or trauma. Fillings are not only for cosmetic purposes; they also prevent further decay and potential tooth loss.

woman with a toothache

What are the types of dental fillings?

Some of the most common types of material used as dental fillings include:

  • Silver amalgam is the traditional filling dentists have been using to treat cavities for more than 150 years. They are inexpensive and very durable, lasting between 10 to 15 years or even decades. This material is not used in our dental practice as it is harmful for the environment.
  • Composite resin is one of the most common dental fillings used by dentists today. Unlike silver amalgam, this material can be closely matched to the colour of your existing teeth for a more natural-looking finish. It usually lasts up to ten years but could be prone to discolouration.
  • Glass-ionomer cement (GIC) is made up of materials including alumina, silica and calcium. Fluorite, which is a source of fluoride, is also incorporated in glass ionomers to prevent further tooth decay. Like composite resin, it is also cosmetically appealing as they could be made the same colour as your teeth. While it is more predisposed to wear and fracture, recent advancements including resin-modified GICs, which use bioactive glass have improved its efficacy and durability.

Gold and ceramic porcelain are also used for dental fillings. While these materials are probably the most durable and effective, they are less favoured because of their costs, but may be more cost-effective long-term for very large fillings.

Dental filling procedure: before, during and after

The procedure usually starts with the application of local anaesthesia to numb the area where dental filling will be done. The decayed part of your tooth is then removed using drills or lasers. Once all the decay is removed, your dentist and oral health therapist cleans the cavity of any bacteria and debris, making it ready for dental filling. The filling is applied and then polished to complete the process.

In the case of composite resin, the process may take a few more steps after cleaning the cavity. The material is applied in layers and is chemically bonded to your tooth’s structure using a special light. This process is known as “light curing”. Once done, it is shaped to the desired result, trimmed and finally polished.

Following a dental filling procedure, you may experience some discomfort or tooth sensitivity around the affected area. Desensitising toothpastes could help ease sensitivity. While rare, allergic reaction may also occur including skin allergies or rashes. If these symptoms persist, contact your dental practitioner immediately.

Protect fillings through regular tooth brushing, flossing, and cleaning in-between your teeth. Visit your oral health therapist up to four time a year for regular gum health maintenance and to check for any signs of chips, cracks or discolouration of your fillings.

Contact us for more details

Learn more about dental fillings and how to restore decayed teeth. Contact our team of dental professionals at Coburg Hill Oral Care by calling (03) 9041 5301.