What are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are a common restorative treatment for minor damage to a tooth usually caused by a cavity - also known as tooth decay - or by wear and tear over long periods of time.
At Seycove Dental, we offer options for composite fillings and amalgam fillings, both of which are safe. The type we use depends on your needs, but we commonly use composite fillings because they are tooth-coloured and appear more natural for teeth that are visible and easier for others to see or notice.
When your dentist applies a dental filling to a tooth to repair damage, they are aiming to restore your tooth's function and support the natural tooth structure.
Dental Sealants for Preventive Care
Dental sealants are a quick and affordable option for preventing tooth decay. They are a thin coating that is painted on teeth to protect them from cavities, and while sealants are typically used in children, they can be used in adults as well.
This preventive treatment lowers the chances of developing cavities in the deep chewing surfaces of your back teeth.
Because these grooves, pits, and fissures are narrow and difficult to clean with a toothbrush, they’re some of the areas that develop cavities first.
By placing sealants over your chewing surfaces, we essentially create a shallower area that’s smoother and easier to clean with a toothbrush. That way there’s little to no residual bacteria left inside of the grooves following your typical brushing routine.
Filling & Sealant FAQS
Read our most frequently asked questions about filling and sealants available at Seycove Dental.
How does the dental fillings process work?
Dental fillings are required because of the deterioration of the tooth due to holes caused by tooth decay. Left unchecked, the decay will continue to spread and damage the tooth.
During the filling procedure dentists clean away the decay inside the cavity, usually with a drill to prevent further damage. But this doesn’t fix the damage that has already been created, so a filling is necessary.
The intent of the filling is to replace the part of the tooth that is missing or destroyed by tooth decay.
The dentist molds the filling to match the shape of the surrounding tooth, which restores the strength and integrity of the tooth and prevents further decay from happening.
What types of fillings are available?
Depending on the tooth, there are options for direct fillings, inlays and onlays.
Direct fillings are small and targeted fillings that are placed inside a prepared cavity, covering only the parts of the tooth that are experiencing decay. This type of filling is used for cavities that are located on the sides, or between two teeth.
Inlays are restorations that fill the space between rounded edges, at the centre of the tooth's surface. Inlays can be made from composite resin or porcelain.
Onlays may be a solution for cases in which a dental crown would be excessive. They are often more durable and longer-lasting than regular dental fillings.
What materials are used for dental fillings?
There are several types of materials available that can be used for fillings, these include gold, porcelain, silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc and copper), tooth-colored plastic and composite resin.
Which type is used depends on your dentist, the extent and location of your tooth decay, and sometimes, your insurance coverage.
Will I have tooth pain or sensitivity after a filling?
When you get a filling, the area around the infected tooth is numbed by your dentist.
As a result, you likely won’t feel anything for an hour or two after your appointment but once the numbing wears off it is typical to feel pain or sensitivity in your teeth and gums.
Pain is common when drinking or eating anything that is hot or cold. It is also common when you brush or floss near the affected tooth. Tender gums are also typical after getting a cavity filled.
How can I minimize pain or sensitivity after a filling?
You can reduce the sensitivity in your teeth and gums by:
- Taking an anti-inflammatory drug, like Advil or Motrin
- Temporarily avoiding hot, cold, or acidic foods and beverages such as fruit, wine, and yogurt
- Brush and floss more gently
- Use a desensitizing toothpaste like Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive
How long does a dental sealant last?
Dental sealants have been used and proven to be effective since the 1970s. They are mainly placed on chewing surfaces and are effective in preventing tooth decay. Their lifespan can vary, but many last years—and it is possible to place a new sealant on a tooth if the sealant wears off. It is important to note that sealants only protect the surface of the tooth they are placed on. Using fluoride and other preventative cleaning practices will still help protect all the surfaces of the tooth from decay and cavities.
Who qualifies for dental sealants?
Sealants are designed for healthy teeth that have yet to develop cavities. In most cases, they’re placed on permanent molars shortly after they come in (around the ages of 6 and 12, respectively). However, adults can choose to get sealants too. It may be that their childhood sealants came off or they’re starting to develop cavities in other teeth for the first time.
Investing in affordable dental sealants can help you prevent more extensive (and expensive) oral health treatments in the future.