Dental fillings are used to fill cavities in teeth which have decayed or to treat cracked or broken teeth. They are the most common dental work that a dentist will perform and typically consist of a white composite resin or silver-colored amalgam.
Dental fillings will generally be needed when one experiences tooth ache where excessive consumption of sugary foods and/or poor oral hygiene has resulted in the decaying of the associated tooth. The dentist will remove the bad part of the tooth and then fill the void with the amalgam. An anesthetic (injection) is usually administered as the area will likely be sensitive once the dentist starts the cleanout.
The dentist will start by numbing the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. A drill and abrasion instrument is then typically used to remove the decayed material – lasers are also used by some dentists depending on the amount to be removed as well as the competence of the dentist and how much they have invested in their surgery. The dentist will then probe and pick at the cavity to remove the last of the decay, after which he/she will proceed to polish and protect the root and nerves before applying the filling.
The tooth-colored material is then applied in layers to the cavity and an ultraviolet light is used to cure each layer. After the successive layers have been completed and hardened, the dentist will then finish off with shaping and polishing.
There is no real recovery time after having dental fillings, apart from waiting for the pain to subside, and not biting down too hard on the treated area for at least 24 hours to allow the composite to fully cure.
Fillings need to be maintained like normal teeth by brushing twice daily for at least two minutes at a time using fluoride-containing toothpaste. One should also floss at least once a day.