Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are one of the most common types of dental procedures in the United States. At some point in their life, most people will have to either have a cavity filled or choose dental restoration for other issues. Here's a look at some commonly asked questions about dental fillings.

What Are Dental Fillings For?

Dental fillings are used when you have a cavity. They close off holes in the enamel where bacteria can enter, and they also stop the decay from continuing to spread throughout your tooth and over to other teeth.

What Is the Process of Getting a Dental Filling?

Generally, you start with a consultation. During that initial appointment, the dentist does a visual exam of your mouth and takes X-rays of your teeth. If those processes identify the need for any fillings, the dentist makes another appointment for you to get the work done. If you need multiple fillings in different parts of your mouth, you may opt to have the work done over several different appointments.

In some cases, fillings are relatively small and shallow, and you may opt to let the dentist do the work after just applying a gel-based local anesthetic. However, in most cases, patients opt to get numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic as well. Then, you truly can't feel the process, although, you will be able to hear the work being done. Patients who are really anxious about the process may even opt for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or sedation dentistry.

Once you are comfortable, the dentist removes the decay from your mouth. Then, the dentist fills the cavity. Finally, the dentist applies a special light to the dental filling to help it cure.

Are Dental Fillings Related to Root Canals?

Decay that has reached the nerve may have to be treated with root canal therapy or through pulp capping which will attempt to keep the nerve alive. That can also be related to a filling.

Again, for this procedure, the dentist simply removes the decay and places the filling to restore the missing shape of the tooth to its original anatomy. However, if the decay has damaged to the enamel, passed the dentin layer and penetrated into the pulp of the tooth that houses the nerve inside the nerve canal, this issue can’t be addressed with only a regular filling. The dentist first needs to clean the canal that houses the nerve to remove the inflammatory bacterial agent that causes pain and discomfort and removing the nerve of the tooth followed by filling the empty nerve canal. This canal restoration uses a different material and sometimes a plastic pin to provide a larger bonding surface allowing a more ideal and stronger final tooth restoration. The restoration of choice after root canals are usually crowns to protect the entire surface of the tooth. Dental restorations can be direct restorations such as composite fillings or indirect and lab made such as dental crowns, inlays, and onlays.

Why Aren't Fillings Silver Like They Used to Be?

In previous years the choices for dental fillings were amalgam (silver colored fillings), and composite (white colored fillings). After studies suggested that there may be mercury release of the amalgam fillings into the oral cavity, the trend has shifted to use mainly composite fillings. The composite fillings also tend to be more conservative as they don’t need to have a specific shape to retain the filling like the amalgam filling. Composite fillings harden, and as they harden they shrink in size.

If you would like to have a dental exam to determine whether you need dental fillings or other procedures call Buckhead Cosmetic and Family Dentistry at 404-400-0400 or contact us online for more information. We look forward to meeting you!