A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the damaged tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further damaged. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-coloured fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
Porcelain fillings are called inlays or on lays and are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.
If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).
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