Know All About Tooth Filling


How Do I Get Rid Of Cavities?

Cavities are a common form of tooth decay that occur when foods containing carbohydrates become trapped between teeth, and are not completely removed with brushing and flossing. Bacteria living in the mouth digest these foods, generating acidic byproducts, creating plaque, which dissolve the teeth enamel. Excessive consumption of high-carb and sugary foods make the teeth susceptible to gum diseases and cavities. Cavities are found not only among children, but are also prevalent in adults. As the ageing process takes place, gums weaken and pull away from the teeth, which exposes the root of the teeth to plaque. Cavities may also form around edges of the fillings over time, as the fillings weaken and result in tooth decay.


Tooth Filling can relive your pain by filling cavities.

What Is Tooth Filling?

Getting fillings is a dental procedure in which material such as silver amalgam or a composite (white) filling is used to treat a decayed tooth. This stops the decay from spreading into the root, where it can cause a serious infection (abscess etc). This also removes the need for a tooth extraction.

Tooth Filling is also known as Dental Filling and Cavity Filling.    

Who Are The Ideal Candidates For Tooth Filling?

Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. Anything that looks abnormal will again be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may ask for an X-ray of your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.

Dental fillings are most often used to replace the part of a tooth needing to be removed after a dental cavity eats away the tooth surface. Ideal dental filling candidates have contained areas of damage that have not yet threatened the integrity or root of the tooth.

Your dentist may also choose to place a filling if there is minor wear-and-tear on tooth surfaces due to tooth grinding or small cracks due to physical injury. Porcelain fillings can be used for replacing metal fillings to improve appearance and eliminate any mercury-associated risks.

Good candidates for the dental fillings procedure include patients that have mild to moderate tooth decay. Patients with a seriously infected tooth may need a root canal and dental crown in order to restore the tooth back to health.

What Are The Different Types Of Tooth Filling Procedures?

The right filling to suit your needs will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Different materials include:

  • Gold fillings: Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. However, gold fillings price is generally the highest, over $200 and requires multiple visits.

  • Amalgam (mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc): Its combination helps to retain the normal function of the tooth. Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.

  • Composite white filling (synthetic combination of acrylic resin and glass): It has a white colour, enabling it to match the colour of the tooth. However, composites may chip or wear over time, and can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco. They also do not last as long as other types of fillings.

  • Porcelain fillings (inlays or onlays): They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.

For both the silver amalgam and composite white fillings the procedure involves the drilling of a small hole within the affected tooth which is then packed with the filling.

The only difference is that the dentist will give the composite filling a final polish to ensure that it has that clean, white look and fits in with the rest of your teeth.

What To Do Before Tooth Filling?

During your dental appointment, a technician will take X-rays of your mouth, which will be examined by your doctor, along with your teeth, gums, and surrounding bone. If the dentist finds any evidence of tooth decay and cavities, he/she will recommend the proper course of treatment. If the patient only has mild-moderate tooth decay, a dental filling can be used to restore the tooth back to health.

What Is The Post Operative Care For Tooth Filling?

  • Your anesthesia will wear off in approximately 1-3 hours after the procedure. It is very important not to chew on the numb side (to prevent biting tongue, lip, etc.) until the anesthesia wears off.

  • Children should be observed until the anesthesia has worn off. They may chew on the inside of their cheeks, lips and tongue which can cause serious damage.

  • It is normal for teeth to be sensitive to heat, cold or pressure during the recovery stages after surgery, which will subside within a few days to a couple of weeks or more. As long as your teeth or gums are feeling better, there is no need for concern. If you feel that the symptoms are not improving after a couple of weeks, it’s best to consult your dentist. 

  • If your cavity was large, or close to the pulp/nerve of the tooth, it may take longer for the tooth to settle down.

  • Once the anesthesia has worn off, it might feel as though you are hitting against the teeth (upon which work has been done) when you bite down. This imbalance in your bite may cause further discomfort and should be adjusted.

  • The gum tissue may be sore for a few days, due to irritation during the procedure. The anesthetic injection site may also feel sore or bruised during the initial stages of healing.

  • Brushing and Flossing:  After your filling is set, after care requires following your normal routine of brushing and flossing.

What Is The Post-operative Diet For Tooth Filling?

You may have something to drink right away but be cautious if you are numb.  Hot drinks could cause a burn and you may not know it.

You may also spill some down your chin with numbness in your lip.

With silver fillings, you should not chew hard foods or chew directly on the new fillings for the first 24 hours. If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

Composite (white) fillings set right away and can be chewed on as soon as the anesthetic wears off.

When a very large filling is placed, your dentist may ask that you wait until the next day to chew on your new filling and to use your opposite side to chew in the meantime.

When you begin to use your new filling to chew, a change in your bite may be noticeable. If you feel like your bite isn’t right or you hit your new filling before the other teeth on that side, please consult your dentist for a simple bite adjustment.

What Are The Realistic Expectations Of A Tooth Filling Procedure?

  • A tooth filling procedure can vary in both cost and quality of treatment, given the diversity in expertise of doctors as well as in the cost of the various filling materials. Hence, you should be realistic and look into the amenities provided by any hospital that provides too cheap a treatment. It is best to trust a hospital with an international accreditation status. 

  • Tooth filling can, sometimes, have unexpected results. Your tooth can have an allergic reaction to the material of the filling, or the cavity isn’t removed properly and can lead to unnecessary pain. Such complications can result from inefficiency on the part of the doctor, or an unforeseen reaction by the organs/glands in your mouth. 

  • Tooth fillings last for a time period of 10-15 years on an average.

  • Further, you can ask the doctor abroad the following questions. These will help you in understanding the subtleties of getting treated abroad:

    • What should be the duration of the medical stay?

    • How long do the fillings last? 

    • Which is the safest location to live in the city? 

    • What is the local cuisine and does the hospital provide your choice of cuisine?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Tooth Filling?

  • Pros

  • Cons

  • No further infection or decay: Before filling up the tooth, dentists carefully clean it up to completely remove any existing bacterial infection. After filling up the tooth, further infection is less probable due to shielding of the cavity. This protects the tooth from any further decay. 

  • Natural look: Porcelain dental fillings have the benefit of giving your teeth a natural look which will make them appear as if they were in their unaltered, original condition.

  • Resistance to damaging elements: Gold based fillings provide an added resistance to the bacterial infections, saliva or food bits to seep through to the cavity, thereby enhancing protection to teeth.

  • Save your time and money: Dental filling procedure offers you with some of the cheapest ways to repair your decayed teeth. Moreover, it does not take much time to place, one of the main reasons for its low cost. Gold fillings are however, a little expensive and time consuming.

  • Loss of healthy tooth: Some types of fillings such as amalgams or ceramics may need the removal of some part of the healthy tooth for better adjustment to achieve better finishing and longevity. However, to avoid damage to the healthy tooth you can choose other fillings like composite (resin) filling.

  • Sensitivity problems: Sometimes, gold or amalgam-based (comprising of metals) fillings render the teeth susceptible to heat and cold sensitivity. To avoid this, you can choose other types of fillings.

  • Darkening with time: Metal based fillings develop stains or get tarnished with the passage of time. Regular polishing or protective caps can prevent the fillings from developing black spots.

Who Should Avoid Undergoing Tooth Filling?

Tooth filling is for individuals who have identified a cavity in their tooth before it has reached the nerve of the tooth. In such a case, the cavity can be thoroughly removed and replaced with a filling. However, the cavities that have reached the nerve of the tooth need to be treated using techniques other than a simple tooth filling, such as a root canal. Such individuals, whose cavities have reached the nerves, are not ideal candidates for tooth filling. For them, it is ineffective procedure. 

In addition, individuals who wish to repair excessive wear and tear of the teeth should not rely on fillings. There are other restorative options such as crowns, bridges, and dentures that will work more effectively than tooth fillings.

What Are The Alternatives To Tooth Filling?

The most common treatment for a cavity is a tooth filling, which involves drilling a hole in the decayed tooth and filling it with silver alloy, gold, porcelain, or a composite resin. Another alternative to tooth filling is using dental crowns, in which the decayed portion of the tooth is removed and replaced by a crown made from gold, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal. This procedure is often opted when the decay is excessive.

In a case where the root or pulp of the tooth is dead, a root canal is performed where the tissue, nerve and blood vessels are removed in addition to the decayed tooth.

Recent advancements have developed a new tooth rebuilding mechanism which treats tooth decay without drilling or injections. This procedure, known as Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER) aims at accelerating the movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth. However, this treatment is relatively new and has not been widely commercialised yet.


Does Tooth Filling Lead To Scarring?

There is no scarring associated with getting fillings. 

However, your dentist must also screen you for other conditions like sleep apnea, jaw-related pain called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, periodontal disease, oral cancer, diabetes and hypertension.

What Are The Temporary Side-Effects Of Tooth Filling?

There can be a few complications from dental fillings, but they are not severe in nature and can easily be dealt with.

  1. Sensitivity to hot and cold food
    Solution: Avoid eating food with extreme temperature until your mouth adjusts to the filling

  2. Pain while biting
    Solution: Avoid biting and chewing unnecessarily. Eat soft food, like oatmeal or mashed potatoes until the pain resides. It takes between 1-3 weeks until you will get completely comfortable with the filling.

  3. Silver amalgam’s possible risks; sensitivity and tooth ache
    Solution: Since no conclusive results prove that the sensitivity and toothache are particularly caused by mercury filling, there isn’t a definite solution for the same. However it is best to consult your surgeon about the use of silver amalgam filling to avoid the possibility of complications.

How To Choose A Surgeon For A Tooth Filling Procedure?

To choose the right surgeon, start by going online and looking at all possible options. Once you have exhausted researching on all possible options of hospitals, get in touch with the shortlisted hospitals’ doctors.  Evaluate the doctor's capabilities by asking him/her a number of relevant options, such as:

  • What is their medical background?

  • What is the step by step process for treatment? 

  • How to ensure best post-procedure care?

  • Which material to choose as a filler?

The above question will solve two purposes. You will gain a practical knowledge of the procedure and you will be able to choose the appropriate doctor. The doctor should possess expertise in drilling (so as to not drill the health tissues of the teeth) as well as recommending a  filling appropriate to you ( consider your past procedures in dentistry and possible allergic reactions to certain fillings, etc)

If the surgeon isn’t qualified enough, the procedure can have some unwanted complications, such as:

  • Bonding failure of the tooth filling 

  • Allergic reaction to silver amalgam 

  • Pain when you bite

  • Persistent pain in tooth

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