Fillings, as the name implies, quite simply fill the hole in a tooth, trying to recreate the original shape of the tooth. Fillings are often a necessary and very straightforward procedure involving the careful cleaning of the cavity and the removal of any weak parts of the tooth. Then the tooth is filled usually with a tooth coloured composite filling chosen to match the colour of your tooth.
- Usually numb the area around the tooth with an injection – but some small fillings may not need this, or patients may choose not to have any anaesthetic.
- Remove any decay, together with any old filling material, using a small, high-speed drill.
- Remove any weak part of the tooth which might break later.
- Wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it.
- Etch the surface to be restored with a mild acid to help the filling adhere more closely.
- Coat the surface that is to be restored with a bonding agent (which acts like cement) and then push the filling material into the cavity and shaped as required.
- Harden the filling by pointing a bright light at it. This is called curing.
- Then trim and polish the filling as necessary.
- Unlike silver (amalgam) fillings, white filling material sticks to teeth and can form edges, so it may be effectively used to repair front teeth that are chipped, broken, decayed or worn. It can also be used as a ‘veneer’ to cover marks or discolouration that cleaning won’t remove.
- White fillings are less noticeable than silver fillings, which may turn black in the mouth. White fillings come in a range of shades so they can be quite closely matched to the colour of your own teeth.
- A tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than for a silver filling.
White fillings are more difficult to place in back teeth, as they need dry conditions, which can be hard to achieve right at the back of your mouth.