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What are dental fillings?

When you have a cavity, your dentist cleans out the tooth then closes the hole in the tooth with a dental filling.

This is one of the most common dental procedures in the world, and can help save a tooth. Modern dental practices have also made this virtually painless – and certainly more comfortable than enduring a toothache!

In some cases, your dentist will recommend dental fillings for cracked or broken teeth, or hidden cavities that you haven’t noticed yet.  This can be diagnosed through cavity-detecting dyes, x-rays, and laser fluorescence cavity detection aids.

What are the different kinds of dental fillings?

There are many available fillings, which vary in cost, durability and appearance.

  • Metal fillings. This includes gold and silver fillings, which are very durable and can last for as much as 15 years. However, metal is more likely to react to extreme temperatures, and the nature of the material requires the dentist to remove more of the tooth to prepare it for the filling.
  • Tooth colored composites. This is the most natural-looking filling material, and can be used for the front teeth, or to repair chipped or worn down teeth. However, it’s the least durable and usually needs to be replaced after about five years.
  • Ceramic fillings. This is the most expensive kind of dental filling, but it lasts for 15 years or more. It looks more natural than metal, and resists stains better than tooth colored composites.
  • Glass compound fillings. This is usually used for cavities below the gum line, because it produces fluoride that help make the tooth stronger. This usually lasts for about five years before it needs to be replaced.

What are inlay and onlayfillings?

Dental fillings can fix small to medium cavities, but if you have a larger cavity, your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay.

Inlays and onlays are customized fillings that are made of a very strong material that can last up to thirty years and actually strengthen your tooth by up to 70%. They’re recommended for back teeth, or any tooth where a large chewing surface is damaged. You need the extra protection and durability of inlay and onlay fillings for any tooth that goes through a lot of wear and tear whenever you eat.

Aside from being stronger, Inlay and onlay fillings can also look very natural. They can be made to match the shade of your teeth.

How do I know a dental filling needs to be replaced?

Fillings can get broken or worn down. You know it’s time to get them replaced when you feel pain or sensitivity, or if the filling feels cracked or edged when you touch it with your finger or tongue.