What is a filling?
A dental filling, or restoration, is a material used to replace broken or diseased tooth structure or replace an older filling that has worn out. Constant chewing stresses and temperature changes from eating hot and cold foods slowly wear down tooth structure and existing fillings, causing them to chip and break. In addition, tooth decay (cavities) can form around existing fillings requiring the filling to be repaired or replaced.
Types of filling materials?
There are many types of filling materials with varying esthetic, strength and handling properties. Your dentist will evaluate each situation to choose the proper material for your particular situation.
The two major categories are tooth colored fillings and metal fillings.
Tooth Colored Fillings are more technique sensitive than metal fillings. However, their advantages include better esthetics, less tooth structure removal required for success and they form an actual bond to tooth structure for retention and strength. Metal fillings simply wedge into place for retention, thus adding no strength to the tooth through bonding.
Pictures & Video: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/composite-fillings.aspx
What steps do we take when placing fillings?
How a filling is placed changes depending on the size and type of repair required, and it often varies from office to office. Larger fillings and fillings that extend between teeth require a band or "matrix" that allows the filling to be properly built against the adjacent tooth.
When placing tooth colored fillings (the majority of restorations), we follow these steps:
- prepare tooth to properly receive a tooth colored restoration
- isolate the tooth/teeth that are being restored to keep all saliva from the area (saliva contamination of the surface during the procedure will destroy the bond of the filling to the tooth)
- scrub the prepared tooth structure with an antibacterial agent to ensure a strong bond of the filling to the tooth structure
- scrub the prepared tooth structure with a desensitizing agent to reduce/eliminate hot and cold sensitivity following the procedure
- scrub prepared tooth structure with etchant, primer and bonding agent
- cure the bonding agent with a curing light
- place and contour resin composite material
- cure resin with curing light
- trim and polish resin for final esthetics and proper chewing function
- once the resin is cured, the patient can immediately chew on the restoration . . . there is no waiting time for the restoration to "harden" . . . just be careful chewing while your mouth is still numb!!