Everything you need to know about getting a filling
84% of adults in the UK have at least one filling, making it one of the commonest dental treatments available. If you're yet to have one, here's everything you need to know about getting a filling.
Fillings are generally made of any one of five materials, which your dentist should advise you on:
Amalgam fillings are silver in colour, comprising a mixture of metals such as silver, copper, tin and mercury. Amalgam fillings are strong, durable and inexpensive, making them one of the most common. However, some people don't like the appearance of silver fillings, so prefer to choose something a bit more expensive to get a more natural look.
Composite fillings are made of a tooth-coloured mixture of glass and resin that can match the colour of your teeth. However, they're not as durable as metal, so may need replacing more often.
Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain, and give a natural look. They're more durable than composite, but are usually more expensive.
Gold is very hard wearing, but as you might expect, comes at a much higher cost. It also doesn't look natural, but you might like the look of gold in your teeth.
Glass ionomers are a mixture of glass and acrylic that release fluoride over time. They can be useful for low-stress areas like front teeth or roots, and are often used for childern as a short-term solution for baby teeth.
The procedure is quick and usually painless. First your dentist will apply some local anaesthetic. Once the area is numb she will remove the decayed tissue from the cavity, usually with air abrasion, but if the cavity is particularly deep a dental drill will be required.
Having cleared out the decayed tissue and any debris, the dentist will put the filling in place. A quick clean and polish and you're done.
After the treatment
Your lips and gum area may remain numb for a few hours after the treatment, so be careful when chewing food.
You may feel some sensitivity or pain in the tooth – and the surrounding teeth (this is known as “referred pain” where the nerves in the filled tooth send signals to the adjacent teeth) – for a week or two. This is normal. If it lasts for longer than a few weeks, go back to your dentist. Similarly, if you feel pain when biting you may need the filling re-shaped.
And that's it. All that's left is to take care of your filled tooth the same as any other, and go back for regular check-ups in case your filling starts to wear down and needs to be replaced.