Dental Fillings for Teeth

Dental filling prep by Dr. Albik at Eldorado Family Dental

Dental Fillings are the first step in repairing damaged or decayed teeth causing pain or discomfort in your mouth. At El Dorado Family Dental, we have helped patients just like you repair their teeth with our simple dental filling process. In many cases, a damaged tooth can be repaired with a filling in just one visit to our dental office.

TYPES OF DENTAL FILLINGS

The three types of dental fillings shown composite resins, amalgam and goldOver the years, there have been many types of dental filling options. As dental technology has improved, the types of filling materials available to your dentist have also improved. The three most common types of filling materials are:

  • Composite Resins
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Precious Metals (Gold Fillings)

Composite Resins: Fillings made from a composite resin are commonly referred to as white or tooth-colored fillings. Except for very specific cases, Dr. Albik will use composite fillings for your treatment plan. The composite resin is made from a mixture of glass or quartz filler and provide a high level of resistance and durability against future damage. With proper care and maintenance, a filling made from composite materials will last between seven and ten years. Dental Amalgam: Often referred to as “silver fillings,” amalgam fillings have been used by dentists for generations prior to the introduction of composite fillings. The amalgam is made from a combination of materials including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. While amalgam is an affordable and durable material for dental fillings, there are many reasons dentists have moved away from this option. Public safety concerns about the material used and aesthetic reasons top this list. Many of our patients who have had amalgam fillings in the past, now choose to replace them with a composite filling to give a more natural look to their teeth. Precious Metals (Gold Fillings): Also referred to in dentistry as inlays or onlays, gold fillings have been used by dentists for more than 1,000 years. The fillings are composed of an alloy such as gold, copper, or other materials. While these fillings are very durable, their high cost and inability to match the natural color of the teeth make it an unpopular option for dental fillings

“One of my teeth was giving me lots of pain when I ate anything cold. I called El Dorado Family Dental and they were able to see me the same day after I got off work. Turns out a cavity was causing the pain and Dr. Albik was able to fix it with a filling right then. My pain was gone the next day thanks to their great dental staff!”
– Steven V. Folsom, CA

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TOP 7 REASONS YOU MAY NEED A DENTAL FILLING

There are many reasons that your dentist may recommend a dental filling as part of your treatment plan. Here is a list of the seven most common reasons we have found our patients need a dental filling treatment:

  1. Tooth Decay from a Cavity
  2. Grinding or Clenching of Teeth
  3. Damage from Chewing on Hard Objects
  4. Accidental Chipping or Crack
  5. Uneven Pressure from Chewing
  6. Normal Wearing of Enamel
  7. Replace Old or Worn Fillings

1. Tooth Decay from a Cavity

There are a variety of reasons you may experience tooth decay from a cavity. Some of the most common factors leading to a cavity filling include bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking or drinking beverages high in sugar, tobacco use (smoking or chewing tobacco), and poor oral hygiene habits. Cavities are one of the most common oral health issues and are heightened with children, teenagers and older adults. However, anyone is susceptible to cavities, including infants.

Cavities that are left untreated can continue to grow, leading to severe toothaches and infections. If a cavity continues to decay the tooth, it may require a root canal dental treatment and the placement of dental crowns to restore the tooth. In cases where the decay has badly affected the tooth structure, a tooth extraction may be required and replaced with a dental implant. Common symptoms of a cavity include toothaches, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, visible holes, pits, or discoloration in the tooth, and pain while eating or drinking.

2. Grinding or Clenching of Teeth

Grinding or clenching your teeth while sleeping, doing intense activities or in everyday life can cause damage to your tooth enamel. Many people will occasional grind or clench their teeth with little to no negative damage. However prolonged or regular teeth grinding, called Bruxism, can lead to oral health issues including a chipped or cracked tooth or teeth.

Since most patients affected grind or clench their teeth during sleep, common symptoms include waking with a dull headache or sore jaw. Additional symptoms of damaged teeth are like those found in tooth decay from a cavity.

3. Damage from Chewing on Hard Objects

Consistent or even occasional chewing on hard objects or foods can lead to tooth damage. Chewing on pens or pencils or biting down on hard foods like ice, nuts or hard candies have led to chipped or cracked teeth for some of our patients.

Symptoms of damage caused by chewing on hard objects or foods are like those found in tooth decay from cavities.

4. Accidental Chipping or Cracking

While your teeth are generally strong, there are times when accidents can cause chipping or cracking. A strong impact to the mouth such as in a car accident, blow in a sporting activity, or fight can jar the teeth, causing a chip or crack in the tooth.

Aside of visual chips or cracks in the teeth, additional symptoms of damage are like those found with tooth decay from cavities.

5. Uneven Pressure from Chewing

Evenly distributing the pressure of chewing across your teeth is important to decrease the chance of causing uneven wearing on the tooth enamel. Favoring one side of your jaw to chew food can be caused by a damaged or missing tooth in another part of your mouth.

If you experience uneven wear due to increased or uneven chewing pressure, it is important to not only repair the affected area, but address the issue causing the problem.

Symptoms of damage caused by uneven chewing pressure are like those found in tooth decay from cavities.

6. Normal Wearing of Enamel

Even with good oral hygiene practices, over time normal wear on your teeth can cause loss of tooth enamel, leading to issues like cavities. Additional factors, like genetics, can also play a role in the normal wearing of your tooth enamel.

Preventive oral care, including proper brushing and flossing habits combined with regular six-month dental visits provide the best defense against normal wearing of enamel.

7. Replace Old or Worn Fillings

While many fillings can last a long time with proper dental care and maintenance, most will eventually need to be replaced. A common reason that many of our patients choose to have old amalgam, or silver colored, fillings replaced is for the aesthetic look that new composite fillings provide. The composite fillings can be color matched to blend with look of your natural teeth. This allows patients like you to smile without any self-consciousness of a contrasting silver filling standing out, especially in the front teeth.

The average lifespan of a filling varies depending on the material used. Composite fillings will generally last 5-7 years, while amalgam fillings have an expected lifespan of 10-15 years. During your regular dental check-up, Dr. Albik will examine any teeth with fillings and note any potential wear issues.

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“During my regular dental visit Dr. Albik noticed the beginning of a cavity on one of my front teeth. He reassured me the cavity filling would match the natural color of my teeth and be virtually unnoticeable. Now I want to get my old silver fillings replaced with the tooth colored fillings!”
– Tim L. El Dorado Hills, CA

DENTAL FILLING PROCESS

When your treatment plan requires a dental filling, you can rest assured that our friendly staff will make you as comfortable as possible through the entire process. Our typical dental filling visit will follow a process like this:

  • Exam and X-ray: The first step in diagnosing a problem tooth is a dental examination. Dr. Albik will meet with you to learn more about the type of pain you are experiencing and if certain activities or factors elevate the level of pain. He will then examine the problem area along with the surrounding teeth. An x-ray will be taken to give a better understanding of and damage or decay. After reviewing the x-ray, Dr. Albik will explain your treatment options.
  • Tooth and Gum Prep: To help relieve any pain or discomfort during the treatment process, Dr. Albik will administer a local anesthetic to the area. The local anesthetic will numb the gums and roots of the tooth for the procedure and the effects will wear off within a few hours.
  • Removal of Damage and Decay: Once the area has become fully numb, Dr. Albik will begin to prepare the tooth for restoration by using special dental tools that removes the decayed or damaged areas of the tooth. During this step, you may feel vibrations in your teeth and gums, however the local anesthetic will prevent any pain or discomfort. Once the damage and decay has been removed, Dr. Albik will cleanse the area by applying an acid gel to the tooth to remove any remaining bacteria or debris.
  • Filling Composite and Placement: Dr. Albik will mix a composite filling material, taking care to match the natural tooth color for aesthetic purposes. The affected tooth will then be isolated from the surrounding teeth to prevent interference of moisture during the process. Various adhesives are then applied to the tooth to help create a strong bond with the filling. The composite filling material is then placed on top of the adhesives, shaped, and then hardened with the use of a special bonding light.
  • Final Adjustments and Polishing: The dental filling process is completed by Dr. Albik having you do “bite check” tests to ensure that the filling lines up with your natural bite pattern. If the bite check reveals any high points in the new tooth structure, he will use special tools to remove the excess material. Once the filling passes all our tests, the tooth will be polished, and you will be able to see your restored tooth.
  • Future Prevention and Care: Following your treatment, Dr. Albik will spend some time with you to discuss how to prevent future damage and decay to your new filling and natural teeth. Good oral hygiene including, good home brushing and flossing practices along with regular dental exams and cleanings.

Don’t let pain in your mouth get worse! Our dental office offers convenient appointment times that work with your busy schedule. Many patients that require a dental filling can receive the full treatment in just one visit. Contact our office to schedule your appointment today.