General Dentistry

9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Dental Fillings

Jan 25 • 4 minute read

Tooth decay is a dental health problem that frequently arises as a result of poor dental hygiene and/or a diet that is rich in sugar and sweetened beverages. The solution to tooth decay is usually a dental filling, which seals the cavity and stops the decay from progressing further.

Fillings can be composed of composite, amalgam, or ionomer. There are several things you might not be familiar with concerning these fillings. Here are the top ten things you might not know but should be aware of when it comes to dental fillings.

  1. Some People May Have Allergic Reactions to Certain Fillings
    Amalgam (metal) fillings can contain materials like mercury, chromium, beryllium, or nickel. In some people, these components can potentially cause side effects or even allergic reactions. The allergy could manifest in the form of a rash, swelling, or burns in the body’s soft tissue. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people never experience these side effects. Composite fillings are made of different material, and to date have not been linked to any allergies or negative side effects. If you have experienced such allergies or are concerned about the possibility, composite fillings are likely a better choice for you.
  2. Fillings are Softer than Your Natural Teeth
    While dental filling material has improved over the last few decades, fillings are still softer than the enamel the surrounding tooth is composed of. This means they may not be able to survive the same forces of chewing and biting as the natural enamel. For this reason, it is best not to chew on hard things like ice, nuts, or hard candy when you have fillings.
  3. Tooth Distortion and Weakening May Result from Certain Amalgam Fillings
    Although fillings do help by stopping the progress of tooth decay, some silver amalgam fillings may contribute to tooth discoloration or tarnishing, which can be a cosmetic concern if you are a patient considering this type of dental treatment. Again, consider other types of fillings which do not have this potential side effect, and you likely won’t have to worry about this issue, as it is limited to fillings made from silver amalgam.
  4. Some fillings require wedging or shaping of the whole tooth
    During the filling process, some tooth cavities may require that the overall tooth be modified in shape by wedging or shaping. This can lead to a weakening in the overall structure of the tooth. Ideally, a tooth filling should be minimally invasive and not require this procedure, but it is necessary when getting a filling on a tooth that has been particularly damaged by decay and has progressed very far.
  5. Dental filling is usually a painless experience
    Some people have the misconception that the dental filling process is a painful and scary one. For most people, the dental filling process is painless since dentists use a local anesthetic to numb the area during the procedure. By the time the anesthetic wears off, the pain has usually subsided already. As a result, you don’t need to worry about having a painful experience if you ever need to have a cavity filled.
  6. Fillings blend in with your normal teeth
    Composite fillings are white, the same color as the tooth enamel that surrounds them, so you don’t need to be concerned about your fillings being noticeable when you smile. So if you were worried about those fillings messing up your smile, don’t be. Your smile will look just fine after getting your dental fillings!
  7. Resin Ionomer Fillings may be a good option for some tooth cavities
    Resin Ionomer fillings are a type of filling that is generally used on non-chewing surfaces and on primary teeth. They wear out faster than other options, so they may not be for everyone. This type of filling removes a very small amount of the tooth structure surrounding the cavity, making it less invasive than other types of fillings. They also contain fluoride, helping prevent further tooth decay from occurring.
  8. Fillings may cause very tiny cracks in the tooth
    As dental fillings do not contain a natural adhesive to attach them to the tooth enamel, dentists must drill tiny holes in the tooth to wedge the filling material into so that it will remain in place for years to come. These tiny holes may provide a home for some bacteria to grow, which could potentially lead to other tooth decay. Weakening the tooth structure in this way could also lead to the formation of tiny cracks in the enamel.
  9. Glass Ionomer fillings are another option that are sometimes used
    In certain cases where filling small decay spots or making a temporary restoration, dentists will utilize glass ionomer fillings, which are a filling composed of glass and organic acid. This type of filling is a translucent compound, rather than an opaque one like the other fillings. It can also be used to cement metal or crown material that has decayed. Very little enamel is removed with this type of filling, so it is also less invasive than other types of fillings.

So there you have it – 9 things you probably did not know about dental fillings. You should now feel more prepared should you ever need to get dental fillings of your own. See your dentist to learn what dental filling options they have on offer, and what solution would be best for your tooth decay treatment needs.

Do you have any issues with your current dental fillings, or need to get a dental filling in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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