What Do Fillings Do To Your Teeth? 

What Do Fillings Do To Your Teeth? 

While getting dental fillings is a common enough term that most people know about, there are still very common questions that surround this specific dental procedure. 

If you are in the process of getting cavities repaired and your dentist has mentioned this as a future option, you are probably wondering — what do fillings do to your teeth? 

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Fillings are essentially installed to replace the part of your tooth that has been exposed to decay and are designed to help regenerate durability and strength in the tooth. Fillings will keep further decay from spreading, and protect the sensitive areas of your tooth. Fillings can match the same color of the tooth and are installed routinely by most dental practices. 

While their function seems simple enough, what happens if you don’t get fillings installed? Are they that important? These are important answers that we wanted to take some time to answer.  Read on to find out why fillings are the right option for tooth damage or cavity repair. 

Why Are Fillings Important?

Fillings Eliminate Decay

When you come in for a filling procedure, one of the first things that need to happen is for the tooth that has been damaged needs to be completely cleaned out. As the tooth is cleaned, the dentist looks out for any signs left behind from decay and gets rid of it all. 

If this step isn’t done, decay will just continue to eat away at the tooth, eventually leaving it to become abscessed. If this happens, there is a danger that the infection can not only stay in your mouth but spread to other parts of your body as well. 

When there is a risk like this on the table, it’s easy to see why fillings are such a good idea. 

Fillings Protect Your Teeth 

If a cavity is left untreated in the mouth, it essentially means that bacteria are permitted to roam freely. If this is the case, the bacteria can start to move on to other healthy teeth creating an even bigger problem. One of the biggest problems could be gum disease. The bacteria will attach to your other teeth, and force you to go in for a very serious dental procedure that can be a lot more expensive. In the long run, choosing to take care of cavities is an investment worth looking into. 

Fillings Give You A Natural Smile 

One of the biggest damages to a natural smile is the loss of teeth. If cavities are ignored or overlooked for too long, the tooth might have to be removed. This will cause the patient to feel self-conscious and will have to wait until an implant is installed. 

All of the extra hassle to get an extra tooth can be avoided altogether if fillings are pursued when the first signs of cavities start to appear. Because fillings can now be made to match the color of the tooth, a natural smile is preserved. 

Fillings Enable Your Tooth To Function 

Cavities are extremely painful because they are caused by holes that are decaying in the tooth. When a patient tries to drink or eat anything, there will only be more pain. With fillings, this pain is eliminated and normal function is restored to the previously damaged tooth. Fillings allow you to eat and drink freely without ever having to worry about intense pain. 

Fillings Will Last A Long Time 

Thankfully, fillings don’t have to be replaced every couple of weeks. Because they are made from such durable materials, you can expect to have the same filling doing its job correctly for years and years down the road without any side effects. 

Fillings are not just a temporary fix, they are a long term solution that you can count on. But what are these fillings made of that makes them so durable? And how many options are there when going this route? Read on to learn more about what types of fillings can be used and what they’re made of. 

What Types Of Fillings Are There? 

When you think of fillings, you most likely just think about a generic metal filling, but there are quite a few materials to choose from. Some of the materials available include: 

Composite Fillings 

Composite fillings are created using a combination of plastic and resin material that is inserted into the cavity while it is still malleable and then hardened with a curing light that is bright blue. This is one of the more common choices to use because it is the one that can be custom colored to match the shade of the tooth that is being treated. These will last for about 5 years, while others might last a bit longer. Depending on what your preferences are, you may want to choose aesthetic over the longevity of use. 

Silver Amalgam Fillings

An Amalgam Filling is probably the most well known of the filling materials because of its silver color. However, this filling is more than silver because it’s a combination of different minerals like zinc, copper, and tin. 

A lot of dentists like using this material because of its strength, durability, and consistency. It is also a lot more affordable as a plus. 

One of these Amalgam Fillings can last over 15 years and is extremely easy to customize to fit into your specific cavity without any worries of the material being contaminated by the saliva or blood. 

While this type of filling lasts a lot longer than others, its not quite as pleasing to the eye as the custom colored fillings. You might want to consider this when you are thinking to prioritize durability or aesthetic. 

Gold Fillings 

Gold fillings are not so popular because they are quite expensive. On top of that, not many dental practices offer this type of option just because it’s not as practical or regularly purchased. 

If you do find someone who offers and installs gold fillings, you will need to return for multiple fittings to make sure it is sitting correctly in the tooth. As a positive note, gold doesn’t corrode, it’s extremely sturdy, and can also hold up more 15 years or more. 

Ceramic Fillings 

Ceramic Fillings are created by using porcelain which makes them extremely durable while also being pleasing to the eye. 

They are quite a bit more pricey than other options, but it’s mainly because they can be colored to match your tooth exactly and are extremely resistant to abrasion and staining more than composite resin. 

The downside to this type of filling is that ceramic is quite a bit more brittle and needs to be a decent size to keep it from cracking. Because they need a bigger surface area to be installed, they are usually talked about as onlays or inlays

Glass Ionomer Fillings 

Ionomer Fillings are made of a mixture of acrylic and glass and are a great option for children because their teeth are still growing and changing regularly. 

This type of filling doesn’t last very long, but they can release fluoride which serves as a measure of protection for their teeth from even more decay and damage. 

Because they are made from glass and acrylic, they are more likely to wear down or crack, and it also isn’t as precise when it comes to matching teeth color. 

However, if you are looking for an affordable and flexible option for fillings for your child, these Ionomer fillings may be a great solution. 

Other FAQ’s About Fillings 

Is A Filling Treatment Painful? 

After a filling procedure, it is very normal for your tooth to feel quite sensitive to cold, air, sweet foods and especially pressure. If you are feeling any prolonged pain in your filling, it’s probably because the filling is set too high. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to contact your dentist as soon as possible so that it can be adjusted to the correct height. 

How Do I Make My Fillings Last? 

It’s a good idea to take care of your fillings the same way that you work on trying to prevent them in the first place. Regular habits like these will ensure your fillings last as long as they are intended to: 

  • Limit sugar and go with a healthier option whenever you can. 
  • Brush twice a day as thoroughly as you can with toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss. 
  • Use a therapeutic mouth rinse to help cut down the oral bacteria in your mouth. 
  • Avoid tobacco products and things that can stain your teeth like soda, coffee, and tea. 
  • Make sure you see your dentist regularly for your routine cleanings and check-ups. 


Will My Insurance Cover A Filling Treatment? 

Most insurance companies can cover at least 80% of a white filling treatment for posterior and anterior teeth. It’s best to contact your insurance provider directly to find out a more precise amount for what will be covered. 

What’s The Next Step?

For anyone struggling with cavities or tooth decay, dental fillings are the next right step. If you or a loved one are interested in finding out more about this dental procedure or want to set up an appointment, give us a call today! 


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