San Francisco, CA
When a part of your tooth cavity has decayed, a dental filling is necessary to prevent any further damage from happening to the tooth. If tooth decay is discovered, San Francisco Dental Arts offers a variety of dental fillings to best suit your dental needs.
While tooth decay is the most common reason for needing a filling, they can also be caused by a number of other issues. Acidic food and drinks, such as soda and sugary sweets, can erode the enamel that protects your teeth, causing the need for a dental filling. Fillings may also be needed after an injury that resulted in a tooth chip or crack. Teeth grinding can also result in the need for fillings. Regular appointments with one of our dentists will help prevent tooth decay as we will be able to monitor your oral health.
What is a Filling?
A dental filling procedure involves the use of an artificial substance that the dentist fills in the holes or gaps within the enamel of the decayed tooth. Our dentists at San Francisco Dental Arts perform dental fillings as a restoration procedure to change the shape, appearance, or even stability of the damaged tooth. Receiving dental fillings allows you to chew normally and prevent further tooth damage.
Types Of Fillings
Our dental office offers different filling materials including silver amalgam, composite resin, a gold alloy, and porcelain fillings. Silver amalgam may also be termed as a silver filling and is the common filling material dentists use, made up of a mixture of metals. The silver filling is a combination of silver and mercury and is considered more durable compared to other fillings. Dental specialists and the World Health Organization recommend silver amalgam since it is safer and durable.They are inexpensive compared to other fillings and last 10 to 15 years. Due to their strength, amalgam fillings are often used in the back teeth. Amalgam fillings are noticeable, however, due to their silver color, so they may be ill-suited for fillings on the front teeth.
Composite fillings are plastic resins that are made to match the color of your teeth, making them indistinguishable. Composite resin consists of a combination of plastic resin and powdered glass. It is white-colored and mostly used to fill the top. Patients prefer this filling material because it looks like a tooth. This is their main benefit that they are aesthetic as they cannot be noticed easily. However, composite fillings do take longer to fit, and are more expensive and less durable. Additionally, composite resin has some fluoride that aids with tooth decay.
Children who have cavities can benefit from resin filling. And while porcelain fillings resemble gold fillings, they are considered indirect fillings whereby you have to schedule several visits to our dental office to have the filling procedure completed. The downside with porcelain fillings is that they are quite fragile compared to gold fillings. That being said, porcelain fillings resemble the natural tooth, allowing you to have a dental filling that retains the original appearance of the tooth.
A gold alloy filling consists of a mixture of gold and copper, among other metals. Although durable, gold fillings are pretty expensive, and at times, they are sensitive for your teeth.
Inlays and onlays are ceramic fillings usually made of porcelain that are even more undetectable than composite fillings. Composite fillings can stain over long periods of time, whereas ceramic fillings are far less likely to. Inlays and onlays last up to 30 years, making them more durable compared to traditional fillings. However, they are one of the most expensive conventional fillings available.
Talk to one of our dentists to advise you on the best filling for your cavity. They will be able to help you assess which filling will suit your specific needs.
Dental Filling Procedure
A dentist will inspect the tooth to find out the extent of the damage. That way, the dentist is able to know the proper way to conduct the filling. Anesthesia helps numb the tissue surrounding the gum, making you feel more comfortable and easing the pain when undergoing the procedure. Our dentist will drill the tooth and remove the decay. After cleaning the area, the dentist will fill the material. The dental filling requires only a few minutes to complete. Once the filling is placed, the dentist will ask you to bite hard in order to see if it has fit properly.
Benefits of Dental Fillings
Tooth decay and cavities can cause pain. Filling a tooth helps to reduce pain while consuming foods or biting on something. Additionally, dental fillings protect the tooth, hence preventing more decay from occurring. As a result, you will prevent tooth loss, which may occur if the cavities or decay are not treated. Dental fillings can last for over 15 years, but their lifespan depends on the filling material utilized as well as how the filling procedure is done.
Caring for Fillings and Avoiding Them in the Future
Some pain and tooth sensitivity may be felt after a filling has been put in place. This pain should only be temporary and will subside. Contact us if the pain doesn’t reduce within one to two weeks.
Keeping up with your regular dentist appointments is particularly important after a filling as the dentist will need to ensure that the filling has not cracked or leaked. If a filling has cracked, and a patient does not attend their dental appointment, the tooth could decay further.
Dietary changes can also help reduce the risk of developing a cavity as sugary food and drinks can wear down the enamel on teeth, due to their acidic content. Changing toothbrushes or toothbrush heads can help ensure brushing is keeping your oral health in optimal condition.
Otherwise, maintaining good oral health is the best course of action for avoiding further cavities, and to keep your current filling in a good condition. If you’re unsure of proper brushing and flossing techniques, one of our dentists will be able to advise you.
To get more information about fillings and how they help protect and save your teeth, visit our team at San Francisco Dental Arts. We will help you choose the most suitable filling material for your specific case. To book a dental exam as a new or recurring patient here at San Francisco Dental Arts, please contact us at 415-854-9396.