Taking good care of your oral and dental health is extremely important for a number of reasons. For one thing, it has a positive impact on your overall physical health and for another thing it keeps your teeth strong and healthy for as long as possible. Unfortunately, though, sometimes accidents happen that could damage your teeth. You could also develop an oral bacterial infection that can cause cavities and tooth decay.
If that happens, then your dentist will most likely recommend some type of dental filling treatment to offset the effects of the tooth damage and restore your smile to its natural appearance and healthy disposition. Dental fillings are an effective solution that can also reinforce the strength of the damaged tooth and fill in cavities that can otherwise lead to serious tooth decay if left untreated.
Although dental fillings aren’t covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), many employers typically offer comprehensive dental plans that cover non-emergency outpatient dental procedures such as dental tooth fillings.
Read on to learn more about what dental fillings are, the different types of dental fillings and common signs that you may need one or more fillings.
What Is a Dental Filling?
It’s estimated that approximately 96% of Canadian adults have been affected by dental cavities at some point in their lives. Dental cavities are tiny holes that form in your teeth. These holes can be caused by a number of different factors, including bacterial infections, diet, genetic configuration of the mouth, and lack of proper hygiene.
Think of dental fillings as an asphalt patch in the road that is your mouth. Over time, roads can develop cracks which turn into potholes if they’re not properly sealed. Those cracks and potholes need to be filled with aggregate to stop them from getting worse and collecting debris and organic materials that can weaken the structural integrity of the pavement.
The same principle can be applied to your teeth. Teeth can become damaged due to a traumatic injury caused by blunt force or they can develop cavities due to poor oral and dental care.
Dental fillings are used to fill in and seal cracks or holes in your teeth to prevent infection from occurring. They’re applied after your dentist thoroughly cleans out the affected area and removes all of the infected matter to avoid trapping it inside the tooth.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings and the application process has evolved tremendously since they were first invented in the 1500s. A lot of advancements have been made in the field of dentistry since that time that have led to the development of several types of dental fillings that are composed of various materials and serve slightly different purposes. One of the biggest and most important developments is that dental fillings can be made to match the exact shape and shade of your surrounding teeth.
The idea is to make them blend in as much as possible so that they fit in seamlessly with your other teeth. Your dentist will explain the difference between each type of dental filling in greater detail, but for now here’s what you should know.
Silver Amalgam Filling
Silver amalgam fillings are referred to as such because they’re actually a composition of a variety of metals including silver, copper, mercury, tin, and zinc. They’re incredibly durable and with proper care they can withstand the continuous pressure of chewing all kinds of crunchy, hard and chewy foods for over at least a decade or longer, if cared for properly.
For a while, silver amalgam fillings were the most commonly used fillings in dentistry, but that popularity is slowly dwindling due to the unattractive and conspicuous aesthetic limitations of this type of filling.
Composite Resin Filling
Composite resin fillings, which can be made to match the natural colour of your teeth, are quickly becoming the more popular dental filling option around the globe. Although composite resin fillings aren’t as durable as traditional silver amalgam fillings and will need more frequent replacements, their appeal lies in the fact that they can be made to look exactly like your surrounding teeth. No one will know that you’ve had any dental work done.
Once used as a show of elitism and wealth, gold fillings are one of the most expensive dental filling options on this list. Gold fillings boast great strength and durability and where cost and ostentatiousness of these fillings were once celebrated, these factors are now more off-putting for most people who aren’t celebrities or famous musical artists.
Porcelain fillings are a more discreet alternative to gold fillings because they can be custom-made to match the shade of your surrounding natural teeth. Plus, they’re extremely durable and versatile and can last upwards of 15 years with proper maintenance. These require more than one appointment to complete.
Glass-Ionomer Cement Fillings
Lastly, there are glass-ionomer cement fillings. These are arguably, the least commonly used type of filling. Because they’re made from acrylic and dental-grade glass, they’re not as durable or long-lasting as the other types of fillings on this list.
For that reason, glass-ionomer cement fillings are only used for very specific applications beneath the gum line to slowly release fluoride into the tooth. Due to the weakness of the material, glass-ionomer cement fillings can only be used for miniscule holes near the gum line that don’t come in direct contact with biting pressure as this can damage them over time.
What Are Some Common Signs That You May Need a Dental Filling?
Dental filling applications are among the most common cosmetic and corrective procedures performed by dentists and dental health professionals. When deciding whether or not a tooth filling treatment is appropriate for patients, dentists typically look for the following signs.
Fractured and Damaged Teeth
During your routine dental checkup or exam, your dentist will carefully inspect the health and strength of your teeth. If one of your teeth has a small crack or hole, your dentist will most likely continue to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t expand or fill it right away to prevent infection.
Cavities are holes in your teeth that can start off small but can quickly expand if left untreated for too long. These are usually caused by harmful bacteria associated with plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. Your dentist will apply a dental filling to prevent the cavity from getting bigger.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
Traumatic oral injuries caused by a blunt force to the face can lead to chipped or broken teeth. These are usually classified as dental emergencies. Your dentist will examine the damaged tooth and determine the best course of action. If the damage is minimal, they can most likely repair the tooth with a simple composite resin dental tooth filling.
Tooth discolouration can occur for a number of reasons including staining from certain foods and beverages or a lack of proper dental hygiene. It can even be a symptom of a potentially more serious issue like a dental infection or gum disease. Severely discoloured teeth can range in colour from a light yellow to a dark brown colour. If that’s the case, you should get your teeth checked out by your dentist immediately to rule out gum disease or other infection. Purely minor cosmetic cases of discolouration can easily be resolved with a teeth filling treatment.
You’ve Lost a Filling and Need It Replaced
Whether the filling became loose over time or cracked with use or completely fell out as a result of an injury or continuous immense chewing pressure. Your dentist should be able to assess the situation and replace the filling as needed.
Need a Dental Filling? Book an Appointment at Princeview Dental Group
Princeview Dental Group is a well-known dental clinic in Etobicoke’s Kingsway neighbourhood. We perform both routine dental procedures such as cleanings, checkups, and filling applications as well as performing emergency dental procedures as needed. Our dedicated dental team is more than happy to answer all of your questions. Contact us today if you think you might need a dental filling in Toronto.