Dental Fillings – Westlake OH

A dental filling is a dental material that is used to repair the look & function of a tooth that has been damaged by tooth decay.

Woman and children smilingYou may be wondering, “If it’s called a filling, why does it involve drilling a hole?” Fillings aren’t like Band-Aids: we can’t just cover up the damage & expect it to get better. Unlike pretty much every other part of you body, teeth cannot heal themselves when they get damaged or infected. In order to restore your tooth back to the way it should be, we have to remove the decay first. That’s what we’re doing when we use the drill when applying a filling. Yes, it does make the hole caused by the decay a little bigger temporarily, but it’s better than leaving any decay that could hurt your tooth more in the long run.

What Is A Dental Filling?

Fillings are used to fill cavities, or small holes, caused by bacterial acids that have eaten through your tooth. If left untreated, cavities can expand, carving deeper into your tooth & ultimately destroying it. Fillings halt the decay process, thereby saving your tooth & preventing more cost & discomfort in the future.

What Types of Filling Materials Are Available?

There are several types of materials that can be used for fillings. What type gets used will depend on the condition of your tooth, how you want it to look & your budget. Your dentist will always want to choose the option that optimally restores the look & function of your tooth.

The most common materials are gold, amalgam (silver), composite (plastic) resin & porcelain. Metal fillings are more common on back teeth (molars) because they don’t show when you smile. However, many patients prefer a tooth-colored, metal-free option, regardless of where in the mouth the filling will be. At our office we prefer to use new & advanced tooth fillings made of tooth-colored materials. This material is made of durable composite resin or porcelain. Tooth-colored fillings are used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well, depending on the location & extent of the tooth decay. Ultimately, the decision on which material to use for your dental filling will be the result of a well-informed discussion between you & the dentist.

Mercury-Free Fillings Are Better for Your Smile

For many years, the majority of fillings that dentists used were made with a metal amalgam. But there is a growing movement to replace metal-based tooth repair with less noticeable, more natural-looking options. So what’s the advantage of a mercury-free filling over a regular metal filling?

Metal amalgam, also known as mercury fillings, have been used in dentistry for many decades. Once the most common tool that dentists used to stop tooth decay, their safety has come into question in recent years. There is an ongoing debate about the harmfulness of mercury in tooth fillings.

It’s a well-known fact that large amounts of mercury can be toxic to the human body. However, the amount of mercury used in metal fillings is incredibly small. In the unlikely event that a metal filling breaks down and exposes mercury to the body, the consequences probably wouldn’t be too serious.

More research needs to be done on the long-term health effects of amalgam fillings, but there is almost no evidence to suggest that dental patients need to worry about old metal fillings. That said, your peace of mind is important to us.

One reason we have chosen to use mercury-free fillings instead of metal ones is to remove any safety concerns you might have. We want you to be confident in the dental solutions we provide. Easing worries about even the smallest risks is important to help a patient think more positively about their dental care. Mercury-free fillings are just one way to accomplish this.

Another reason we recommend mercury-free fillings is because they can give our patients a better-looking smile. We think it’s important to feel good about your appearance. A metal filling can fill a patient with embarrassment because they didn’t care for their teeth in the past. By contrast, a mercury-free filling that matches your natural tooth color can help you look forward to a brighter future with a whiter smile.

Procedure Overview

The dental filling procedure is a very routine & relatively simple treatment.

  • We will start by giving you a local anesthetic to numb the area, if necessary. Numbing may not be necessary for very small fillings, but feel free to ask the dentist about it if you are concerned about discomfort.
  • Next, the dentist will remove the decay using a drill.
  • Once the decay is removed, the dentist may use the drill a little more to shape the tooth so the filling will fit better. The dentist may also etch the inner surfaces of the space with an acid gel to help the filling hold on better later.
  • If the material used for the filling involves resin, the dentist may use a special bright light to harden it. At the very end of the procedure, we will polish to tooth to make it smooth & shiny like the rest of your teeth.

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