Amalgam or Composite
filling is a type of restorative dentistry treatment used to
repair minimal tooth fractures, tooth decay or otherwise damaged
surfaces of the teeth. Dental filling materials, which include
composite, porcelain and silver amalgam, may be used to even out
tooth surfaces for better biting or chewing.
Enamel loss is a common component of tooth
decay, and may result in
In many cases, tooth sensitivity caused by enamel loss will be
significantly improved or completely eliminated once an
appropriate dental filling material is placed. But in some
cases, depending on the extent of tooth decay or damage, the
affected tooth may require additional or alternative procedures,
Dental Crowns: Teeth requiring more
support than offered by a traditional filling may require a
Dental Implants and
Dental Bridges: Irreparable tooth
damage requiring tooth
(perhaps along with antibiotic treatment):
Infected, abscessed or nerve damaged teeth may require a root
Dental Fillings Consultation and Treatment Planning
One of the more common oral health issues
discovered during scheduled cleanings is
decay. Your 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, your 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, your dentist will decide which filling option is
your best option.
what your best option is, your dentist may be able to complete
your filling immediately. In preparation for treatment, the area
surrounding the affected tooth will be anesthetized (numbed)
using a local anesthetic.
Dental Fillings: The Procedure
begins the dental filling procedure by preparing the tooth and
necessary surrounding areas in order to restore the damaged
area. 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 composite filling procedure involves isolation
of the tooth. Tooth isolation is critical in a composite
restoration, because it prevents moisture from interfering with
the bonding process. The bonding procedure 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
Dental Fillings Recovery and Aftercare
cavity has been filled, your dentist will discuss steps you can
take to prevent decay from forming under or around the filling,
or in other teeth.
a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing with dental floss or
an interdental cleaner once a day is advised. Keep appointments
with your dentist and hygienist for routine check-ups and teeth
cleanings. Depending on your risk for caries, your dentist also
may suggest sealants that can be placed over your molars to
prevent the build-up of plaque and decay, as well as the use of
fluoride mouth rinses as an additional preventive measure.
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.
Dental Filling Costs
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 esthetic 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 fillings.
of dental fillings depends on a variety of factors,
dentist who performs the procedure.
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 fillings.
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
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
oral hygiene and your commitment to
continued dental visits.
Authored By: Greg Johnstone
Reviewed By: Gary Alex, DMD