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How do fillings work?

Is it always best to choose a white filling? What happens if I don't do the filling? Get all the answers here!

19 April, 2024

According to a study done by Public Health England tooth decay is the most common oral health issue affecting both adults and children in England. And each year the number of people that need fillings escalates.

Fillings usually happen when our teeth develop cavities (decayed areas of your tooth that turn into tiny holes or openings). But despite being one of the most commonly performed dental treatments it is still relatively misunderstood.

How do fillings work?

When you first get to the dentist they will put you at ease (if you are fearful of the dentist) and they will inject the infected tooth with xylocaine. Xylocaine helps numb your gum so that you can experience pain-free dentistry. A high speed dental drill is then used to remove the area of the tooth that is decayed.

Once your tooth is prepared a liner is placed inside it to reduce any sensitivity that may occur. Depending on the depth of the filling a base may also be used along with the liner. The base provides insulation so that the tooth is not affected by extreme instances of hot and cold.

Once the base and the liner are in, the gap that is left by removing the decayed material that will then be filled with whatever type of filling you choose. Regardless of what type of filling you choose, they will all seal off the gaps where bacteria can get into the tooth and cause further decay.

Which filling is best?

The type of filling that will be the best for you is incredibly subjective and is based on a number of factors. Here are the major factors that will be considered:

• Extent of decay
• Allergies to certain materials
• Where exactly the decay is
• Affordability

There are four types of fillings available:

• Gold fillings
• Silver fillings
• Porcelain fillings
• Composite resins

Gold fillings are the most expensive and often require several appointments with your dentist in order for the process to be complete. They are the most effective because they align well with gum tissue and last up to two decades. So, if you can afford to get this type of filling then it’s definitely the best you can get.

Silver fillings are the least expensive option but they are not the most aesthetically pleasing. The colour of these fillings is the reason why it’s usually used in areas of your mouth that aren’t immediately visible.

Porcelain fillings are produced in a lab and then bonded to your tooth. These fillings usually cover most of your tooth and the colour is matched to the overall look of your teeth. Porcelain fillings aren’t cheap however and often cost as much as gold fillings do.

And finally we have composite resins, these also match the colour of your teeth and give an overall natural appearance. The ingredients for this are put directly into your cavity and then allowed to harden.

What if I have dental anxiety?

If you’re nervous about having a filling done or just nervous in general about seeing your dentist then here are some tips to help you through:

• Share your fears with your dentist/dental nurse so they can put you at ease.
• Take someone with you to the appointment for support.
• Agree on hand signals with your dentist so you can let them know when you’re feeling uncomfortable.
• Choose a quieter time for your appointment so neither you nor your dentist is rushing.
• Choose a dentist with good reviews.

Knowing how fillings work and which is the best for you is the first step in making the right decision. Speak to your dentist for more information if you are still unsure of which filling to go with.

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2 Responses

    • Hello Erika!

      Thank you for your kind feedback on our blog 🙂 We are so pleased you found it to good use.

      All the best,

      From the Enlighten Team.