Teeth fillings to treat cavities and damaged teeth

Treating cavities with fillings removes the decayed part of the tooth and adds a ‘filling’ into the open area. Fillings can also fix cracked and worn down teeth. During the procedure, the dentist will ensure the space is clear of the decay, and will clean the area to get rid of bacteria and residue and then add in the filling. If the decayed area is near the root, the dentist might put in a liner to cover the nerve. Lastly, the dentist will polish the filling.

A typical appointment for a filling takes on average about an hour to an hour and a half. The diagnosis and consultation is done in a prior visit using x rays and examination by your doctor, and the procedure is most often done in a follow-up visit.

If you’re getting a tooth-colored filling, there are some additional steps to the filling process. After the decayed material has been removed and the area has been cleaned, the dentist will apply the tooth-colored material in layers. Next, a special light is used to harden the material on each layer. Lastly, the dentist will shape the material, removing any extra material, and then they will polish the area.

What type of filling material is right for you?

Several dental filling materials are available and there are factors to consider when choosing the type of filling materials best for you. Your dentist will examine the location and extent of the decay and discuss the costs of the filling materials, your insurance options and the pros and cons of each with you. Based on your specific situation your dentist will work with you to choose the most appropriate options for a tooth filling.

Modern composite fillings replicate the look of your natural teeth and can be more easily repaired or replaced.

Other considerations

In cases where there is severe decay and an infection deep in the tooth pulp, a root canal may be needed. This is a more intensive treatment where the infection is deeper in the root and tooth pulp rather than on the surface of the tooth. The entire affected area is removed and filled, and then later a crown will be added to cap the filling.

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