What You Should Know About Tooth Fillings

Tooth FillingWhen patients come into our Austin dentist office with decay, they may not know that they are going to be getting a filling. For most of our patient's, fillings are not a new thing. However, we sometimes get a younger patient in or someone who has been lucky with great teeth, who has no idea about the process of getting a filling.

Since nobody actually starts out coming in for a tooth filling, we know that most visits usually begin with a regularly-scheduled examination that finds any decay. A filling is exactly what it sounds like: material that replaces damaged enamel to prevent infection. The filling closes off spaces in the teeth that may otherwise attract bacterial infections. In order to do a filling, there are a number of necessary steps to take.

What is involved with tooth fillings?

A tooth filling typically starts with a regular examination, which leads to the discovery of soft spots or places where decay creates a cavity. To prevent cavities from forming, we strongly encourage all of our patients to come in at least twice a year for an examination. Catching cavities early on will mean fewer fillings and a better chance at preventing decay. If we discover a cavity, we can go to work filling it.

The first step is to make sure that the patient is completely comfortable. If necessary, we will administer a local anesthesia in the gums around the affected tooth. The anesthesia will completely numb the tooth so the patient does not feel any discomfort while we go through the rest of the process. One thing we do tell patients getting a tooth filling is that they may still feel a mild pressure. After we properly numb the tooth, we will remove the decay by shaving away any infected enamel.

The dentist will also use this opportunity to create a shape in the tooth that is easier to fill since decay can go in all directions. For some kinds of fillings, there are a few extra steps. For example, some fillings, such as bonded fillings, also require us to etch the tooth, which will happen during the shaving process. Other kinds of fillings require the application of a resin. When we apply resin, we use that blue light next to the chair to harden and make it the resin strong.

What materials are used in tooth fillings?

There are numerous materials that can be used depending on what look you want and what the budget will withstand. We can use gold fillings, amalgam (silver) fillings, composite (plastic) resin filling, or even porcelain fillings.

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