Filling application is a common dental procedure. Dental fillings are materials used to fill cavities or holes in the tooth made by acid-producing bacteria. Fillings can be used to repair existing damage or as preventive treatment for very small cavities that may not show up on X-rays.
Filling a decayed tooth is a quick procedure that is performed under topical or local anesthesia. Your Houston, TX dentist gently cleans away decayed areas and sanitizes the space. Next, filling material is applied, shaped and trimmed.
Silver amalgam, composite resin and glass ionomer are common filling materials. The best type of material depends on the size and location of the cavity and your preferences.
Silver amalgam is a paste made of mercury and other metals. Silver amalgam has been around for such a long time because it is effective and relatively cheap. Despite its durability and low cost, however, many patients don’t like silver amalgam because it contains mercury that has the potential to leak out of the tooth. Silver amalgam is also very noticeable. In fact, it stands out as a silver gray spot in the tooth.
For safety, longevity and excellent esthetics, Dr. Crouse uses composite resin or tooth-colored fillings. Composite resin is a biocompatible material that looks exactly like real enamel. It comes in multiple shades that can be color-matched to your natural teeth.
You and Dr. Crouse will select the perfect shade of resin filling from a shade guide. After numbing the area with anesthetic, the tooth is cleaned and allowed to dry completely. It must be free of moisture and saliva. The clay-like resin is then placed in the cavity, shaped and “cured” with UV light. Once the resin is dry, you can use the tooth for chewing.
Fillings and crowns are one of those very common basic dental procedures that surprisingly patients have quite a few questions about and I can understand why because they haven’t been explained the reason why we choose a filling or the reason why we choose a dental crown.
It boils down to just strength. A filling is done on a tooth that has a smaller cavity and has lost less tooth structure. A crown is done on a tooth that has lost a significant amount of tooth structure or is going to lose it because there is a large cavity in the tooth. When we do things in dentistry we don’t just do them to fill a space that has been created, we also do them for strength because what patients need to understand and I think a lot of times they don’t understand this because it hasn’t been told to them, is that you’ve got to be able to function with whatever we’re putting in your mouth. You’ve got to be able to chew, and I’m not saying open beer bottles with your teeth, I’m saying normal chewing, you don’t want to be chewing on something that is going to break on you. And that’s really one of the reasons where we make that decision, we make that call, hey this is going to work just fine with a filling, or other times when I tell the patient, you know what, this needs to be a crown.
The reason we choose a crown is because we want to make sure the tooth doesn’t fracture and eventually need to be pulled. That’s a worse outcome than just going ahead and getting the crown done. So we as dentists sometimes are fortune tellers and we’re trying to guess what the potential risk of that particular tooth is and making a decision based on what we think could potentially happen so that we are preventing the patient from going down that road and losing the teeth. Because at the end of the day, really what we are trying to do is keep everybody’s teeth in their mouth for the rest of their life and that’s really the goal.