To treat your cavity our dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then “fill” the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed.
Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding).
What Steps Are Involved in Filling a Tooth?
First, our dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. Next, a drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser will be used to remove the decayed area.
Next, our dentist will probe or test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed. Once the decay has been removed, our dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, our dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Generally, after the filling is in, our dentist will finish and polish it.
Several additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings and are as follows. After our dentist has removed the decay and cleaned the area, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers. Next, a special light that “cures” or hardens each layer is applied. When the multilayering process is completed, our dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.
What Types of Filling Materials Are Available?
Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold; porcelain; silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper); or tooth-colored, plastic, and materials called composite resin fillings. There is also a material that contains glass particles and is known as glass ionomer. This material is used in ways similar to the use of composite resin fillings.