Did you know that dental fillings are some of the most common procedures you can have in a dental office? From a cracked tooth filling to more permanent repairs, knowing what to expect can make your appointment much easier.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings repair teeth damaged by decay. When your dentist identifies a cavity, they clear out the area and fill it with a strong substance that helps your tooth function properly and prevents further decay.
What Does a Filling Look Like?
Before you slide into the dentist’s chair, you probably want to know what is filling the hole left by your cavity. Dentists use different types of tooth fillings, and they all have pros and cons.
- Amalgam fillings, also known as silver tooth fillings, remain the cheapest and most durable option. These fillings use different metals to make them strong, but they tend to be noticeable due to their dark coloring.
- Composite tooth fillings work well for smaller or mid-sized repairs and are rather durable. By using resins with glass or quartz, you get tooth colored fillings that aren’t as noticeable.
- Metal fillings can be gold or silver amalgam. That said, gold fillings cost significantly more than silver fillings and aren’t as durable.
- Ceramic fillings are also tooth-colored. Usually, they are porcelain fillings that don’t show stains as well, but they can be expensive.
- Glass Ionomer fillings use a special blend of acrylic and glass. While this type of filling releases fluoride to help protect teeth, it doesn’t last as long as the other options.
You may want to choose tooth-colored or off-white fillings for teeth that show when you smile or speak. On the other hand, metal fillings tend to last longer and hold up better for larger areas and those that handle most of your chewing.
What to Expect When You Get a Dental Filling
If your dentist identifies a cavity that requires a filling, don’t fret too much because it’s a common procedure. You can expect your dentist to take x-rays to assess the amount of damage from tooth decay.
Depending on the amount of work needed, you may require a local anesthetic to numb the area. Then, your dentist will remove the decay with a dental drill.
Once the tooth is free of decay, your dentist will sterilize and prep the hole for filling. Depending on the type of filling used, your dentist may need to help it harden or cure with a blue wavelength light. Finally, your dentist will polish the air and check your bite to make sure it’s comfortable and functional for you.
How Long Does a Filling Take?
Simple tooth fillings can take twenty to thirty minutes from start to finish, but you may want to plan for up to an hour. If you need several teeth filled or have a complex cavity that requires more work, you could be there for a longer time. Complex cases may require more than one visit.
What Can You Eat After a Filling?
Note that your mouth may be a little sensitive and tender after a filling, but you shouldn’t experience much, if any, pain. It’s a good idea to avoid hot or cold foods and beverages for a few days after your procedure. Beyond that first few days, you shouldn’t have any restrictions.
How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as permanent tooth filling. While some types of dental fillings, like amalgam and metal, can last twenty years or more, you’ll eventually need a replacement.
Why Would I Need a Temporary Tooth Filling?
Temporary tooth fillings act as placeholders and quick fixes for dental issues. They can fill a damaged crack or hole in a dental emergency to protect your tooth until you can see a dentist.
How Much Do Dental Fillings Cost?
Cavity filling costs can vary depending on the type of material used, the amount of work required, and insurance contributions. The average dental filling costs are lower with amalgam or metal than with gold or white tooth fillings.
Many insurance companies cover some of the tooth filling costs, but it’s a good idea to check with your provider before making your appointment. At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we offer flexible payment plans and a Dental Savings Plan so that you don’t have to put off necessary treatment.
If you’re having tooth sensitivity or pain and suspect you need a dental filling, we can help! Book an appointment at the office nearest you!