Recommended For Tooth Filling
A tooth filling is recommended for patients with a cavity.
Not Recommended For Tooth Filling
Some patients may require root canal treatment before having a dental filling.
Number Of Trips Abroad
Duration Of Operation
30 to 60 minutes
1 - 2 days
Tooth filling are also known as dental fillings. This is one of the most common dentistry procedures in the world, a top favourite dental restoration choice for dentists as well as patients. A tooth filling is applied in order to restore the integrity and full function of any tooth or teeth affected by cavities or decay.
A multitude of tooth filling types are available for patients, as fillings can be made from composite resin, porcelain and even precious materials such as silver or gold. It’s worthy to note that each material has several advantages and disadvantages, which we will mention below:
Contrary to popular belief, gold is a prime material for tooth fillings, being very durable and able to withstand extreme pressure for long periods of time. These qualities make gold the excellent material for restoration work on molars for example. These fillings are also very durable long term, with most fillings lasting up to 15 years or more, if properly cared for.
- Gold filling disadvantages:
Gold tooth fillings are very expensive when compared to other available materials. Patients will have to visit the dentist office for a few sessions before the filling is complete. Although gold is aesthetically pleasing, some patients do not fancy the idea of having coloured fillings for the front teeth for example.
Amalgam is a very reliable material and fillings created from amalgam can last up to fifteen years or even more, if properly cared for. This is the optimal material since it can withstand a lot of pressure while still being aesthetically pleasing if used for the back teeth. These type of fillings are relatively cheap, making them very popular among patients.
- Amalgam or silver fillings disadvantages:
The silver in amalgam fillings can discolour the tooth after several years of wear and tear. Sudden changes in temperature can make the material contract or expand – which in turn can lead to fractures or cracks in the tooth.
Composite fillings can faithfully mimic the patient’s natural tooth colour and translucency. This is why composite fillings are often used for the patient’s visible teeth which are not subjected to high amounts of pressure – for example, the front teeth.
- Composite fillings disadvantages:
Composite material is not as durable as other materials mentioned in this article, which means that it cannot be used for particularly large cavities or for the molars for example. The material itself is also somewhat more expensive than amalgam fillings for example.
Porcelain fillings are very durable, usually lasting more than fifteen years if properly cared for. Porcelain can also look exactly like the patient’s natural teeth, making them very aesthetically pleasing. These fillings are also quite durable and can be used for a multitude of teeth.
- Porcelain dental fillings disadvantages:
These fillings are somewhat more expensive than any other material in this list, except for gold.
Dental X-rays are usually required before placing a dental filling. The x-rays are done in order to ensure that the tooth is not cracked and that the roots are healthy.
How It Is Performed
The area is first numbed with local anaesthesia before the dentist will begin removing all decayed parts of the tooth. The next step depends on the material used but usually once the filling is placed, minor touches are also done in order to ensure a proper fit and good functionality. The dentist will then polish the tooth, making it less visible.
Patients will be required to avoid any food and drink for 4 to 6 hours after the filling has been placed. Increase in tooth sensitivity after a filling has been placed is common – it will pass in a few weeks.
Dental fillings risks and complications can include:
- Allergic reaction to amalgam fillings
Tooth filling pain after procedure for up to several weeks
Fillings falling out
- Secondary caries
Tooth filling procedure side effects can include:
Increase in sensitivity
The average dental filling success rate is close to 98%, with most fillings lasting between 5 and 15 years or more.
Before And After
Patients need to maintain oral hygiene practices in order to maintain their fillings and their teeth healthy. Regular checkups with the dentist are also indicated in order to ensure that the fillings have not cracked and are not “leaking”.
An amalgam tooth filling contains mercury. Is it safe?
Amalgam material is a combination of mercury, silver, copper and tin. The other metals make the mercury harmless. It is safe to use for a tooth filling and has been in use for more than 100 years.
What if my tooth is too decayed for a tooth filling?
If the patient’s tooth is too decayed and a toot filling cannot be applied, a dental implant and crown may be used instead.
How long does a tooth filling take?
The procedure usually lasts under an hour.
Is a tooth filling permanent?
Dental fillings are not permanent, but most do survive for more than 10 years if properly cared for.
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in July, 2019.