Most of us have heard those dreaded words before – “you have a cavity.” It means we have to get a filling to patch up the whole in our tooth created by decay. But how exactly do fillings work? Are there different types of fillings? Are you a good candidate for a filling? A dentist in Indianapolis is here to talk about everything you need to know about fillings.
How Do Fillings Work?
When decay destroys part of your tooth, it leaves a hole behind called a cavity, which still contains some of the bacteria that created it. During a filling procedure, your dentist cleans the area and then fills it in. Fillings prevent decay from spreading to the rest of the tooth and even other teeth.
What Are the Types of Fillings?
There are two types of fillings: amalgam and composite. Amalgam is made of a mix of metals including silver and mercury. When you think of a traditional filling, this is probably what you think of. Although amalgam doesn’t look like a natural tooth, these types of fillings last longer and are less expensive than composite fillings.
Composite, or tooth-colored fillings, are made of a resin material that can be custom shaded to match the color of the tooth. It can be hard to tell you even had a composite filling done since they look so much like a section of the natural tooth. Because composite fillings can be customized, they usually cost more money than amalgam. They are also not as durable and need to be replaced more often.
When Will a Filling NOT Solve a Dental Issue?
Up to a certain point, a filling can fix most cavities. However, once decay reaches the inner layer of the tooth, called the dental pulp, a filling cannot help. In that case, a root canal is necessary. During a root canal, your dentist will create a hole in your tooth to reach the pulp, remove the decay and nerve, and place a synthetic nerve material inside. Then he or she will seal up the tooth and slip a crown on it to protect it. In some way, a root canal is kind of like a filling, but on a much larger scale.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Filling?
In the old days, you might have had a problem getting a filling if you were allergic to any of the metals in amalgam. But now that you have the option of getting a composite filling, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Composite fillings come with fewer risks than amalgam, because they do not contain mercury. Although amalgam fillings have only trace amounts of mercury, some people have expressed concern. It is advised that pregnant women and people who already are exposed to mercury in their jobs opt for composite fillings to lower their risk of mercury poisoning, even though it’s low to begin with.
Whichever type of filling you choose is up to you and your dentist. The important thing is to get a cavity treated with a filling before you require much more than a filling. If you have a cavity, or even think you might have one, call your dentist today.
About the Practice
Dr. Armin Tepner earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Indiana University School of Dentistry, and joined Indianapolis Family Dentistry in 1997. He offers tooth-colored composite fillings that can heal your cavity while also seamlessly blending in with the rest of your smile. To learn more contact Dr. Tepner at (317)-898-3384.