Dental fillings are the go-to restoration when a dentist needs to treat small or medium cavities. Since more than 90% percent of American adults have had cavities in one of their permanent teeth, that means a lot of dental fillings are placed every year in the United States. You may even have a few in your smile. Learn more about dental fillings and why this conservative little procedure can have a big impact on your oral health.
What Do Dental Fillings Do?
Human teeth are extremely strong but they are not invulnerable to damage. When tooth decay destroys areas of enamel or when a sudden injury chips a tooth, it’s important to have the damaged tooth brought back up to its former shape. Dental fillings literally fill in the damaged or injured portion of the tooth, restoring the appearance and function of the tooth.
What Are Fillings Made From?
Most dental fillings placed in the U.S. today are made from composite resin, a sturdy material composed of plastic and silica that can be color-matched to a patient’s natural tooth color. In the past, dental amalgam, a mixture of silver, mercury, and other metals, was the cavity filling material of choice. Amalgam fillings, which take on a silvery or blackish look in the mouth, have gone out of fashion thanks to the affordability and improved esthetics offered by composite resin.
How is a Dental Filling Placed?
First, your dentist will remove any decayed tooth material and clean the area. After thoroughly drying the area, your dentist will apply a conditioning agent that encourages a strong bond between the filling and the tooth. Next, your dentist applies the resin paste and shapes it. The resin is allowed to harden and then your dentist shapes and polishes so it feels and looks natural. S
Staying Comfortable During Your Dental Filling
Dental fillings are usually performed using a local anesthetic, which numbs the area around the tooth but does not put you to sleep. However, patients who experience anxiety, fear, or panic when undergoing dental procedures can talk to their dentist about sedation dentistry.