A filling is used to repair a tooth affected by a cavity. The dentist removes the decayed portion of the tooth and “fills” it. Fillings also repair chipped teeth or teeth that have been worn down by grinding.
Depending on the shape of the tooth needs to be filled, your budget, your insurance, and the dentist’s recommendation, one of the several different materials may be used to fill your teeth.
First, the dentist numbs the area around the tooth to be filled. Then, he’ll use a drill or other device to remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Once the tooth has been thoroughly cleared of decay and cleaned, the dentist will fill the tooth, and then shape and polish the area to ensure your bite feels right.
If you’re getting a tooth-colored filling, the process is slightly different. The decay will still be removed and the tooth cleaned, but the dentist applies the filling material in layers. The hardening of each layer is expedited by using a curing light that shines directly over the filling location. After all the layers have been applied and hardened, the tooth is filed and polished.
The length of time a filling will remain viable depends on your dental hygiene and on the type of material used. Gold, ceramics, and silver amalgam fillings last at least 10-15 years, and sometimes longer. Tooth-colored fillings and glass ionomer fillings are less durable and may last for as few as five years, but maybe longer depending on your mouth.
An indirect filling is somewhere between a filling and a crown. They’re usually used when a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, so it can’t quite support a filling, but it’s not in bad enough shape to need a full crown.
These fillings often require a couple of visits to Lee Dental. You’ll come in for a fitting and analysis at the first visit. During the second visit, the actual indirect filling adheres to your tooth. They’re usually tooth colored to blend with the rest of your teeth.
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