A dental filling is a procedure that restores a decayed tooth back to its normal shape and function. When you have a filling procedure performed at Weissman Dental, we will first remove all decay, clean the treatment site, and fill the cleaned cavity with one of various filling materials. This closes off areas where bacteria can easily enter and helps protect against further decay.
Types of Dental Fillings
Materials that we use for fillings include porcelain, gold, tooth-colored composite resin, and amalgam (an alloy of silver, mercury, tin, copper, and sometimes zinc). There isn’t a single type of filling material that is best for every patient. The type that is right for you will depend on the extent of repair, location of the filling, cost, and any existing allergies to specific materials.
Also known as an inlay or onlay, a porcelain filling is custom-made in our lab and bonded to your tooth. They are matched to your tooth’s natural color and are quite stain-resistant. Generally, a porcelain restoration covers the majority of the tooth, with a cost similar to that of a gold filling.
Gold fillings are made in our lab and cemented into place. They are well tolerated by gum tissue and can last 20 years or more. Due to these reasons, many dental professionals consider gold to be an ideal filling material. However, this type of filling is the most costly option and requires multiple visits.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite fillings are matched to your natural tooth color and are typically used for visible areas where aesthetics is a concern. We mix the ingredients and immediately place the material into your cavity where it will harden. This type of filling isn’t ideal for larger fillings as it may chip or wear down over time. They are also relatively prone to staining from tobacco, tea, and coffee and don’t last as long as other filling materials, with an average lifespan of 3 to 10 years.
Amalgam Fillings (Silver)
This type of filling is very resistant to wear and tear and is relatively inexpensive. Due to their dark color, however, they are also quite noticeable compared to composite or porcelain restorations. We will typically only recommend amalgam fillings when cost is an issue and they won’t be in visible areas.
When a fracture or decay has damaged most of your tooth, we may recommend a crown instead of a filling. When decay has reached your nerves, we can treat it in one of two ways: a root canal in which damaged nerves are removed or pulp capping where we try to keep your nerves alive.
How Do I Know I Need a Filling?
To determine if you need a filling, we will use a small hand mirror to inspect the surface of your tooth. If anything looks abnormal, we will use other specialized tools which may include taking digital x-rays. If you’re aware that a tooth is decayed, we recommend calling Weissman Dental at (503) 274-2222 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.