Dental fillings are restorative treatments used to repair teeth that have been damaged by decay or minor fractures. They serve the dual purpose of restoring the tooth’s structure and function while preventing further decay. The decayed or damaged portion of the tooth will be removed and the resulting cavity is filled with a suitable dental material. Fillings can help alleviate pain and discomfort while preserving the natural tooth and its functionality.
There are several types of dental fillings, each with its own advantages and considerations. The main types of dental fillings include:
- Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are made from a combination of metals, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. They are known for their durability and long-lasting properties, making them a popular choice for restoring molars and teeth that endure heavy chewing forces.
- Composite Fillings: Composite fillings are made from a tooth-coloured resin material. They are highly versatile and can be matched to the natural colour of your teeth, providing an aesthetically pleasing result. Composite fillings are a popular choice for front teeth and areas where a natural appearance is essential.
- Porcelain Fillings (Inlays and Onlays): Porcelain fillings, also known as inlays and onlays, are custom-made restorations created in a dental laboratory. They are known for their strength and natural appearance. Inlays and onlays are typically used for moderate to large restorations.
- Glass Ionomer Fillings: Glass ionomer fillings are a tooth-coloured option that contains glass and acrylic. They release fluoride over time, which can help prevent further decay. Glass ionomer fillings are often used in paediatric dentistry and for non-load-bearing areas.
- Gold Fillings: Gold fillings, while less common today, are highly durable and can last for many years. They are known for their excellent fit and resistance to wear and corrosion.
- Ceramic Fillings: Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain-like materials and are tooth-coloured. They provide excellent aesthetics and durability. These fillings are often used for inlays, onlays, and crowns.
- Composite Resin and Glass Ionomer Sealants: These are preventive rather than restorative. They are applied to the grooves and pits of the teeth to help prevent decay in these vulnerable areas.
Who Needs Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are recommended for individuals who have teeth with one or more of the following conditions:
- Tooth Decay: The most common reason for needing a dental filling is tooth decay, also known as cavities. When bacteria in the mouth produce acids that erode tooth enamel, it can lead to small holes or cavities in the teeth. Fillings are used to repair these cavities and restore the tooth’s structure and function.
- Minor Fractures: Teeth that have minor fractures or chips may benefit from dental fillings. Fillings can seal and reinforce these areas, preventing further damage.
- Worn Teeth: Teeth that are worn down due to factors such as teeth grinding (bruxism) or acid erosion can be restored with dental fillings. Fillings help rebuild the tooth’s surface, improving function and aesthetics.
- Cosmetic Enhancements: Dental fillings are used for cosmetic purposes as well. They can address small gaps between teeth, irregularly shaped teeth, or teeth with minor cosmetic imperfections, helping to create a more aesthetically pleasing smile.
- Replacement of Old Fillings: Old or deteriorating fillings may need to be replaced to maintain the tooth’s integrity and prevent further decay. Modern fillings offer improved aesthetics and durability.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Dental fillings can be used to treat teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. The filling material covers exposed dentin, reducing sensitivity.
The Benefits of Dental Fillings
Dental fillings offer a range of significant benefits for individuals with dental cavities, minor fractures, or cosmetic concerns. Here are the key advantages of dental fillings:
- Restoration of Tooth Structure: Dental fillings are primarily used to restore the structural integrity of damaged teeth. They effectively repair cavities and minor fractures, preventing further deterioration of the tooth.
- Pain Relief: Cavities and tooth damage can cause pain and discomfort. Dental fillings alleviate these symptoms by sealing off the affected area and eliminating the source of pain.
- Prevention of Decay Spread: Filling a cavity stops the progression of decay. By removing the damaged portion of the tooth and sealing it with a filling, the risk of the cavity spreading to adjacent teeth is minimized.
- Improved Tooth Function: Dental fillings restore the functionality of the tooth. Individuals can comfortably chew and bite without discomfort or difficulty.
- Enhanced Aesthetics: Tooth-colored fillings, such as composite resin fillings, blend seamlessly with natural teeth, providing a cosmetically pleasing result. They are virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding teeth, improving smile aesthetics.
- Preservation of Tooth Structure: Unlike more extensive dental treatments like crowns or extractions, dental fillings require minimal removal of the tooth structure. This preservation of healthy tooth material is essential for long-term oral health.
- Quick and Non-Invasive: Dental filling procedures are typically quick and minimally invasive. Patients can often complete the treatment in a single dental visit, saving time and reducing the need for extensive dental work.
- Cost-Effective: Dental fillings are a cost-effective solution for treating cavities and minor dental issues. They offer an affordable way to maintain oral health and prevent more extensive and expensive treatments in the future. At Tooth Doctor, white fillings start from just £100, and root fillings from £400 to £800, making them a budget-friendly solution for treating cavities and minor dental concerns.
- Longevity: With proper oral care and maintenance, dental fillings can provide long-lasting results, ensuring the treated tooth remains healthy and functional for many years.
- Preventive Care: In addition to treating existing dental problems, dental fillings also serve as a preventive measure. By addressing cavities early, they help prevent more severe dental issues from developing.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cost of dental fillings can vary depending on several factors, including the type of filling material, the location of the tooth, and the extent of the dental issue. At Tooth Doctor, we offer competitive pricing for fillings, with starting prices for standard white fillings beginning at £100. For root fillings, the cost typically ranges from £400 to £800. However, it’s important to note that the actual cost of your filling may differ based on your unique dental needs and treatment plan. During your dental consultation, our experienced dentist will assess your condition and provide you with a personalised treatment plan, including an accurate cost estimate. We are committed to offering affordable dental solutions while ensuring the highest quality of care tailored to your specific requirements.
White fillings blend in with your natural teeth, offering a more aesthetically pleasing option compared to traditional silver amalgam fillings. They are also mercury-free.
White fillings have improved in durability over the years and can withstand normal chewing forces. However, they may not be as long-lasting as silver fillings in some cases.
White fillings are typically used for front and visible teeth due to their natural appearance. For molars and teeth subjected to heavy chewing, your dentist may recommend other materials.
White fillings can stain or discolour over time, especially if you consume staining foods or beverages like coffee, tea, or red wine. Regular professional cleanings can help prevent this.
Yes, it’s possible to replace old silver fillings with white fillings for cosmetic reasons or if there are concerns about the safety of silver amalgam fillings.
The lifespan of white fillings can vary depending on factors like oral hygiene and the location of the filling. On average, they can last between 7 to 10 years or longer with proper care.
Amalgam fillings have been used for over a century and are considered safe for most individuals. Extensive research and studies have shown no conclusive evidence of health risks associated with their use.
Yes, amalgam fillings contain a small amount of mercury, but it is bound in a stable form and is considered safe.
Amalgam fillings are silver in colour and can be noticeable when you smile. They are more commonly used for back teeth that aren’t highly visible.
Amalgam fillings are known for their durability and can last 10-15 years or more with proper care.
Amalgam fillings are generally less expensive than tooth-colored fillings because of the materials used.