What are White Fillings?
- A filling replaces part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay or through accidental damage.You may hear your dentist talk about composite, glass ionomer and compomer – these are different types of white filling. The Dental Surgeons is an amalgam free dental practice and as such we do not use mercury-containing dental amalgam.White fillings do take a lot longer to place when compared to metal fillings as the techniques differ greatly. If you require multiple white fillings it is quite common for us to place them simultaneously during a more lengthy appointment. We find that this helps to minimise the disruption on your lifestyle. If you feel that this may not suit your needs then please mention this to your dentist and they will find a solution that does.
What will my dentist do?
- Your dentist will:
- Usually numb the area around the tooth with an injection – but some small fillings may not need this as they are superficial and do not enter the most sensitive part of the tooth.
- Remove any decay, together with any old filling material, using a small, high-speed drill remove any weak parts 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 stick better, coat the surface that is to be restored with a bonding agent and then place the filling material – this is pushed into the cavity that is to be filled and it is shaped as required; harden the filling by pointing a bright light at it, inside your mouth (you will see the dentist and dental nurse protecting their eyes) – this is called ‘curing’.
- Trim and polish the filling as necessary.
What are the alternatives?
- White fillings are also more difficult to place in back teeth, as they need very dry conditions, which can be hard to achieve right at the back of the mouth. Your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay in certain situations. If the tooth is very broken down then a crown may be a more suitable and stronger option.
How long do they last?
- In our experience we find that a well placed and cared for filling lasts from 3 to 7 years, but this will depend on how well you maintain your dental health. Typically, fillings need to be replaced due to wear and tear during their lifespan.
What are the benefits?
- 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 matched to the colour of your own teeth.
- A tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than for a silver filling.
- White fillings can sometimes be used in back teeth if there is not too much decay or damage, but they may be less durable than silver fillings under the wear and tear of chewing.
Does it hurt?
- Occasionally you may get sensitivity after having a white filling placed. This is usually transient and tends to go away. In very deep fillings, which are close to the nerve, the sensitivity may not go away. This sensitivity may be due to the nerve within the tooth dying and may require further treatment. The nerve dies to the decay that is present and unfortunately may only become apparent when a filling is placed.
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