Becky Larson, RDH
What is a filling?
As a dental hygienist, I find that more often than not, my patients are confused. Dental professionals tend to speak a “different language” and it can be very hard to understand. A dental filling is a very common procedure that is performed at the dental office. This post will go over what a dental filling is.
Unfortunately, teeth are prone to decay. When decay occurs on one or more surfaces of a tooth, a hole or cavity forms. A dental filling is the standard treatment used to fix a tooth with one or more areas of small decay. By placing a filling, a dentist is able to restore a tooth back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material with a dental drill, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.
A filling also helps to prevent future decay because it closes off spaces where bacteria may enter. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
It is important to follow your dentist’s recommendations for placing fillings. When decay is left untreated it can cause the tooth to fracture, cause an abscess or infection, and/or destroy the inside or pulp of the tooth. As a result, more extensive treatment such as a crown, root canal, and/or extraction may be needed.
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