Tooth fillings are one of the most common dental procedures. They are part of the basic treatment for a cavity. Essentially, the decayed portion of the tooth is removed, and is replaced by the filling material. This helps to prevent decay from continuing at the location and to provide the architectural support a tooth needs to function without breaking. Fillings can be used to repair cracked or broken teeth as well.

The steps of getting tooth fillings are simple. The dentist applies a local anesthetic to numb the area or with sedation dentistry puts the patient to sleep. Next, a dental drill, laser, or abrasion tool will be used to remove the decay. Once sure that the decay is completely removed, the space is cleaned thoroughly. If the cavity is deep, the hole may need to be lined to protect the nerve root and prevent sensitivity. These liners can be made of a glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material. At this point a variety of materials can be used as fillings, and which one is chosen determines the procedure.

Teeth can be filled with gold, silver amalgam, porcelain, or a variety of polymers and types of glass composites. Which filling material is used depends on a variety of factors, including cost, location of the decay, and insurance coverage. Dr. Yanni of the East Brunswick Dental Group will happily explain the advantages and disadvantages of each type of filling material so that patients can best choose what is the right filling material for them.

Cast gold fillings are durable, strong, and perhaps more pleasing aesthetically than silver amalgam. They can last a decade or more, and they will not corrode. However, they are very expensive, take at least 2 visits to the dentist’s office to place, and are not tooth colored. Another interesting point to note is that if a gold and silver filling are placed side by side, occasionally they can generate an electrical current, known as galvanic shock. It is not recommended to place a gold and silver filling next to each other.

Silver amalgam fillings are much like gold fillings in durability, but are less expensive. However, they can discolor, crack, and occasionally healthy parts of the tooth must be removed to make a space large enough for the silver. Occasionally silver fillings can cause an allergic reaction.

Composite tooth fillings are chemically bonded to the tooth structure, and provide greater structural support. They can also be color matched to the natural teeth. Generally, less healthy tooth material needs to be removed to accommodate a composite filling. They do not last as long as the metal fillings, take longer to place, and may take more visits. It is possible for them to chip, depending on location, and they are more expensive than the amalgam type.

Ceramic or porcelain fillings are more resistant to staining and last as long as gold, and cost as much as well.

Finally Glass Ionomer tooth fillings are better suited for children and special circumstances. They are made of a specialized glass and acrylic mixture.

Locals to the Monroe and the surrounding area will find Dr. Yanni of the East Brunswick Dental Group convenient. Dr. Yanni is happy to answer any questions regarding tooth fillings.