A dental filling is a type of restorative dentistry treatment used to repair minimal tooth fractures, tooth decay or otherwise damaged surfaces of the teeth. Dental filling materials, which include composite, porcelain and silver amalgam, may be used to even out tooth surfaces for better biting or chewing.
Dental Fillings: The Procedure
The dentist begins the dental filling procedure by preparing the tooth and necessary surrounding areas in order to restore the damaged area. The decay or damage is removed with a dental hand-piece or laser, and the area is cleansed to remove bacteria or debris before the restoration is completed.
The first step in performing a composite filling procedure involves isolation of the tooth. Tooth isolation is critical in a composite restoration, because it prevents moisture from interfering with the bonding process. The bonding procedure requires the placement of various adhesives followed by the composite material, which is then hardened with a special bonding light. The completed composite restoration is both functional and natural looking.
Dental Fillings Recovery and Aftercare
After the cavity has been filled, your dentist will discuss steps you can take to prevent decay from forming under or around the filling, or in other teeth.
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing with dental floss or an inter-dental cleaner once a day is advised. Keep appointments with your dentist and hygienist for routine check-ups and teeth cleanings. Depending on your risk for caries, your dentist also may suggest sealants that can be placed over your molars to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay, as well as the use of fluoride mouth rinses as an additional preventive measure.
Also, since diet and nutrition affect oral health, it will be important to maintain a balanced diet and limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks, and between meal snacks.
Dental Filling Costs
The cost of dental fillings depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The dentist who performs the procedure.
- The location where it is performed.
- The type of dental insurance you have. As mentioned above, dental insurance typically does not cover the additional costs associated with composite fillings.
- The number of tooth surfaces that need filling. For example, one tooth may have only one surface affected by decay or damage, while another tooth may have one or all surfaces affected by decay or damage.
On average, amalgam fillings are expected to last approximately 12 years, while composite fillings are expected to last five to seven years. This of course is dependent on your unique considerations, the care with which you treat your oral hygiene and your commitment to continued dental visits.
The cost for amalgam fillings averages approximately $90 to $150 per filling. The cost for resin-based composite fillings, which is determined by the number of tooth surfaces on which the material is placed, ranges on average from $100 to $200 per filling.