Tooth fillings are direct restorations used to treat cavities. When there is a cavity present, the dentist uses a filling to restore the tooth. The earliest form of a tooth filling, to date, was found in Pakistan and is said to be 7,500 years or older. One form found in Italy was made from beeswax.
During the early 1800s, solid metals like gold, tin, and silver were used until dental amalgams were introduced in the west. The dental amalgam used as a tooth filling in this period was made from a mixture of copper, silver, mercury, and tin. The tooth fillings used today are mostly gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or composite resin.
Why Are Tooth Fillings Necessary?
When a cavity is present, it means that there is decay in the tooth. Depending on the severity of the decay, a range of problems can be experienced. In cases where the decay is minimal, sensitivity to certain foods and drinks can occur. With more advanced tooth decay, it is possible to have a structural loss and as a result of an eroding tooth; pain. Tooth fillings fix the current issue and prevent further tooth decay. There is also a lower possibility for more invasive tooth restoration if a tooth is repaired with a tooth filling in time.
How Are Tooth Fillings Done?
Because the process can be painful, the patient will be numbed with a local anesthetic in the area surrounding the tooth. After being numbed, the dentist will use a drill to eliminate any area of the tooth that has deteriorated. The tooth is then cleaned and prepared to receive the tooth filling. This step ensures that all bacteria and fragments are removed so that the tooth filling will successful restore the tooth and prevent further decay in the tooth.
When tooth fillings are done for teeth that have deteriorated down to the root, it is likely that a liner is placed down first to protect the nerve. Liners are made from a few different materials; composite resin or glass ionomer are the two most known. At this point, the tooth is ready for the tooth filling to be applied. Application of the tooth filling is done layer by layer and then hardened with a special light. After all layers have been completed, the tooth filling is then shaped and polished down so that it feels natural to the patient.
For more information on tooth fillings, or to schedule a consultation, contact our experienced restorative dentist in Charlotte, NC.