Tooth filling Consultation and Treatment Planning
One of the more common oral health issues discovered during scheduled cleanings is decay. Our dentist will examine suspect teeth using a dental probe and caries detecting liquid, as well as take an X-ray to determine the extent and exact location of the cavity and decay.
Once it is determined that a filling is needed, our dentist will advise you of your options for filling and sealing the cavity to prevent further decay and damage to the tooth. Based on your medical history, location of the cavity, esthetic needs, biting force, durability, cost, number of visits necessary and your preference, our dentist will determine your best filling option, whether that be direct composite bonding, porcelain, gold or inlays/onlays created in a dental laboratory.
Our dentist will most of times be able to complete your filling treatment immediately. The area surrounding the affected tooth will be anesthetized using a local anesthetic, and if necessary, you also may receive a form of sedation dentistry to ensure your comfort. Keep in mind that if you undergo sedation dentistry, you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.
Tooth Filling Options
When it comes to having a cavity filled, it’s important to know that you have the right to decide, after consultation with our dentist, what treatments and materials are used for your dental care. Our dentist will consider materials to use on an individualised basis, taking into account the size and location of your cavity. Cosmetic considerations, how long the filling could last, insurance coverage and out of pocket costs are some other factors you might want to consider. We encourage you to talk with our dentist so that together you may choose the material that’s right for you.
Here are some common tooth filling options:
- Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, are a mixture of glass or quartz filler that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth.
- Dental amalgam, sometimes described as “silver-colored” fillings, is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Dental amalgam has been used for generations by dentists. Amalgam is very durable and more affordable than tooth-colored or gold fillings; however tooth-colored materials are more natural looking.
- Porcelain fillings, are for teeth with large cavities or cavities in areas where maximum chewing pressure is required, porcelain fillings are the best option.
- Gold fillings, also called inlays or onlays, are composed of an alloy of gold, copper and other metals. Gold has been used in dentistry for more than 1,000 years due to its durability; however, gold is more costly than amalgam and not natural looking like tooth-colored fillings.
Our dentist will begin the procedure by preparing the tooth and necessary surrounding areas in order to restore the decay or damage. The decay or damage is removed with a dental hand-piece or laser, and the area is cleansed to remove bacteria or debris before the restoration is completed. The first step in performing a filling procedure involves isolation of the tooth. Tooth isolation is critical in specially with a composite restoration because it prevents moisture from interfering with the bonding process. This requires the placement of various adhesives followed by the composite material, which is then hardened with a special bonding light. The completed composite restoration is both functional and natural looking.
Recovery and Aftercare
After the cavity has been filled, our dentist will discuss steps you can take to prevent decay from forming under or around the filling, or in other teeth. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing with dental floss or an interdental cleaner once a day is advised. Keep appointments with our dentist for routine checkups and teeth cleanings. Depending on your risk for caries, our dentist also may suggest sealants that can be placed over your molars to prevent a build-up of plaque and decay, as well as a use of fluoride mouth rinses as an additional preventive measure. Also, since diet and nutrition affect oral health, it will be important to maintain a balanced diet and limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, and between meal snacks.
How Much Does Treatment Cost?
Composite fillings are usually more expensive than traditional amalgam fillings because they require a more sophisticated process, more expensive materials and additional office equipment. Composite materials offer an aesthetic alternative to traditional amalgam materials. As such, people who have previously received amalgam fillings often return to their dentist to have them replaced with composite. The cost of tooth fillings depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The dentist who performs the procedure.
- The location where it is performed.
- The type of dental insurance you have. As mentioned above, dental insurance typically does not cover the additional costs associated with composite.
- The number of tooth surfaces that need filling. For example, one tooth may have only one surface affected by decay or damage, while another tooth may have one or all surfaces affected by decay or damage.
On average, amalgam fillings are expected to last approximately 12 years, while composite fillings are expected to last five to seven years. This of course is dependent on your unique considerations, the care with which you treat your oral hygiene and your commitment to continued dental visits. The cost for amalgam averages approximately $140 to $200 per filling, whereas the cost for resin-based composite, which is determined by the number of tooth surfaces on which the material is placed, ranges on average from $170 to $240 per filling.