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Dental Fillings

Even if you’re great about brushing and flossing, you can still end up with a cavity. In the event you discover a cavity either yourself or during your dental checkup, most often your dentist will treat the cavity with a filling.

To apply a filling to a cavity or decayed tooth, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then “fill” the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed. Dentists also use fillings to fix teeth that have been worn down from misuse, such as from nail-biting, tooth grinding or overbrushing.

Types of Fillings

There are many types of fillings, including ones made from silver amalgam, gold, porcelain, or a composite resin. Because composite resin (white fillings) are tooth-colored, they very difficult to see in your mouth and are often preferred by patients concerned about the look of other types of fillings.

Depending on the type of cavity and its location, your dentist might recommend composite fillings. These fillings bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes, according to The Academy of General Dentistry.

Composite filling used to treat cavity in tooth

This shows the steps involved in a restoration of a tooth using a composite filling. In the top left, you can see the cavity in the tooth to be filled. In the bottom right, the tooth has been filled using a tooth-colored composite filling, which is difficult to distinguish from the tooth itself. [By Jeffrey Dorfman [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

How Dentists Fill a Tooth

Here are the steps dentists take when filling a tooth:

  • First, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled.
  • A drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser will be used to remove the decayed area.
  • The dentist will probe or test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed.
  • The dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris.
  • The dentist fills the cavity or area with the type of filling agreed upon by the dentist and patient.
  • For composite fillings, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers and sealed by a special light that hardens each layer as it is applied. Once the layers have been applied, the dentist will shape the composite material, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.

Getting Dental Fillings

If you have a cavity or other tooth damage, your dentist will work with you to determine if a filling is necessary and what type of filling would be best.

At Brite Family Dental, our dentists strive to minimize pain for patients and make the process of getting a cavity filled as easy for patients as possible. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or think you may have a cavity, call our offices at 585-486-4664 or fill out this form to schedule an appointment right away.