Dental Services : General Dentistry : Dental Fillings

Dental Fillings

If part of a tooth has been lost through decay or damaged due to an accident, your dentist may put in a dental filling. Tooth fillings are used to fill a portion of tooth or plug the hole and stop any future pain or discomfort.

Types of Dental Fillings

There are three basic types of tooth fillings that can be opted to resolve tooth decay:

  1. Tooth-Colored Composite Fillings
  2. Traditional Amalgam Fillings
  3. Porcelain Inlays and Overlays
Dental Fillings

Checkup and Consultation is Complimentary

Check on tooth decay during an routine bi-annual oral checkup for a healthy smile and prevent potential significant issues.

1. Tooth-Colored Composite Resin Fillings

In today’s practice and advances in material specifications, tooth-colored composite fillings are the preferred norm for dental fillings. Our dental clinics in Bangkok use 3M ESPE Filtek for composite resin fillings. The 3M ESPE utilises developments in nanotechnology enabling high-quality restorations with good mechanical properties and strength. 

Benefits of Composite Fillings

  • Nanosized filler particles create a brilliant polish and retention
  • Gives excellent strength, durability and wear resistance for even the toughest posterior restorations
  • Can be used for simple to complex restorations involving layering and combining two and opacities
  • Low polymerization shrinkage for less stress on the tooth and less sensitivity potential for patients
  • Fluorescence contributes to a more natural looking restoration
  • Unique nanocomposite-based restorative combines strength and high-quality esthetics
  • Source of information adapted from 3M ESPE website

2. Traditional Amalgam Fillings

Traditionally, our grandparents and parents may have had silver-colored amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are sometimes called mercury fillings as they contain minute amounts of mercury. It was used as these dental filings were economical and long-lasting. 

Today, amalgam filings are commonly replaced with tooth-colored fillings due to controversial studies on the effects of amalgam fillings on our health. Safe removal of amalgam fillings following certain guidelines set forth by IAOMT can be opted at BIDC. Our dental clinics in Bangkok is an amalgam-free center. We advocate and mainly uses composite resin for your tooth fillings.

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Amalgam Dental Fillings versus Composite Dental Fillings

Traditional Amalgam Fillings

tooth fillings material

Amalgam dental fillings are silver in color and may turn blackish over time.

Advantages

  1. Durability – lasts at least 10 to 15 years or more
  2. Strength – can withstand chewing forces
  3. Expense – is less expensive than composite fillings

Disadvantages

  1. Poor aesthetics – does not match the color of your natural teeth
  2. Destruction of more tooth structure – healthy parts of the tooth may need to be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling
  3. Discoloration – amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure and tend to blacken over time
  4. Rare Allergic reactions – a small percentage of people, approximately 1%, are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite resin dental fillings or white fillings are tooth fillings colored to look like a natural tooth.

Advantages

  1. Aesthetics – shade/color can be matched to existing teeth well suited for front teeth use
  2. Versatility in uses – in addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth
  3. Tooth-sparing preparation – less tooth structure or drilling is involved than with amalgam fillings
  4. Stonger tooth – composite fillings can bond directly to the tooth, making the tooth stronger than it would be with an amalgam filling

Disadvantages

  1. Durability – may not last as long as amalgams on average for large fillings
  2. Increased treatment time – because of the process to apply the composite material
  3. Chipping – depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth
  4. Expense – composite fillings can cost up to twice the cost of amalgams

Procedure for Tooth Fillings

  1. First Evaluation 
    • your dentists does an oral examination on the degree of tooth decay
    • x-ray images may be taken if tooth decay has gone under gums or deeper from tooth surfaces
  2. Tooth Fillings Preparation
    • the decay is removed
    • the tooth cavity is cleaned to remove bacteria and debris
    • your tooth is prepared to be filled for tooth fillings
  3. Application of Dental Fillings
    • either composite resin or amalgam is is placed into the preped space in layers. At BIDC, your dentist will use composite fillings unless there are contra-indications for its use for your case
    • a special light “cures” or hardens the composites 
    • the tooth filling material is shaped to the desired result with any excess material trimmed off
  4. Checking of Tooth Filling
    • your tooth with the dental filling is polished 
    • and your dentist asks you to bite to check for any high spots for comfort
    • if you feel any discomfort, please inform your dentist to adjust the restored tooth

Recovery Expectations

Having new dental fillings or replacement of existing tooth fillings is a quick and relatively simple process. Dental fillings treatment can usually be completed within one visit if warranted. If however, there are a large number of fillings, the visits may be separated for better patient comfort.

There should be little or no sensitivity in teeth. Most tooth fillings do not require local anesthesia unless the decay is significantly deep or near your tooth root.

The process course of dental filling treatment described above is one of several options available at our dental clinic for tooth decay. Consult your dentist to find out what the best solution to resolve for tooth cavities specific to your condition.

Care for Dental Fillings

To maintain your tooth fillings, you should follow good oral hygiene practices:

  • Brush at least twice a day. It is good practice to brush after eating and before bedtime.
  • Floss at least once to twice a day.
  • Rinse with fluoride rinse before bed. Swish the fluoride rinse vigorously in your mouth for at least one minute. Do not swallow any of the rinse and do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes
  • See your dentist for regular professional check-ups and cleanings. If your dentist suspects that a filling might be cracked or is “leaking”, further assessment of the situation should be done
  • If your tooth is extremely sensitive, if you feel a sharp edge, if you notice a crack in the filling, or if a piece of the filling is missing, call your dentist

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Teeth Fillings

What are indirect fillings?

Indirect fillings are tooth-colored fillings made from porcelain or gold. Instead of using composite resin material that are applied and completed in one visit, indirect fillings need to be made in a dental laboratory. The advantage of having in-direct fillings is that they tend to provide for better strength and are typically used for larger sized tooth cavities.

There are three types of indirect fillings :

  1. inlays
  2. onlays
  3. overlays

Inlays, onlays and overlays will require at least two visits. Indirect fillings are considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it needs a crown. They can be made of porcelain or gold. Please do consult your dentist if conventional tooth-colored composite fillings or inlays, onlays, overlays may be recommended to you.

What is a temporary filling and why would I need one?

Temporary fillings are used under the following circumstances:

  • For fillings that require more than one appointment – for example, before placement of inlays and onlays
  • Following a root canal treatment that is still incomplete
  • To allow a tooth’s nerve to “settle down” if the pulp became irritated
  • If emergency dental treatment is needed (such as to address a toothache)

Temporary fillings are not meant to last. They usually fall out, fracture, or wear out within 1 month. Be sure to contact your dentist to have your temporary filling replaced with a permanent one. If this is not done, the tooth could become infected with other complications.

Are amalgam fillings safe?

Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-colored fillings, otherwise called amalgams. Because amalgams contain mercury, some people think that amalgams are responsible for causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Several public health agencies mentions that amalgam fillings are safe and the link between mercury-based fillings and related disease is unfounded. There is no solid, scientific evidence to back up that if a person has their amalgam fillings removed, he or she will be cured of these or any other diseases.

From the stance point of our Thailand dental clinics, we place it as a best practice to remain amalgam free. At BIDC, we use white fillings composite resins for our teeth filling treatments. Our dentists is able to employ safe fillings removal protocols on request.

Conclusion – Dental Fillings

Tooth fillings are used to restore teeth after tooth cavities is removed. There are several dental fillings materials that include amalgam fillings, tooth-colored composites and lab-fabricated porcelain indirect fillings

In today’s era, amalgam fillings is now typically replaced with composites to remove potential risks of mercury components used in amalgams. BIDC dentists is able to offer safe removal of amalgam fillings techniques on request. 

Whether direct composite fillings or indirect porcelain inlays, onlays, overlays are recommended by your dentist will be based on the size of the filling restoration required and its required biting load strength. For more severely decayed teeth with a larger portion of tooth structure removed, dental crowns may be recommended by your dentist. If the dental cavity bacteria is gone into tooth roots, you will be referred for root canal treatment followed by crowns.

Preventive dentistry alongside with an bi-annual dental checkup should be routinely done in detecting teeth decay early. Rapid diagnoses and treatment with simple dental fillings avoids the need for more significant and costly dental treatments.

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