Fillings are one of the most basic methods of restoring teeth. They do exactly what their name suggests – they fill a hole in the tooth that has been caused by decay, playing an important role in helping us to keep a tooth for many more years.

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There are two main types of filling – amalgam, the traditional silverygrey coloured fillings, and composite, the more modern toothcoloured fillings.

Tooth-coloured fillings

Tooth-coloured, or composite, fillings are virtually invisible, so no-one except your dentist need know you have them.

The latest filling materials are strong and long-lasting, and can be blended to provide a virtually perfect match to your own teeth.

Composite fillings also have other advantages over amalgam ones. They do not require as much of the natural tooth material to be removed before placing them, and because they are bonded to your tooth they help to strengthen it.

The procedure

Modern techniques mean that having a filling is now virtually painfree. We usually numb the area around the tooth with a local anaesthetic, and then clean out the decayed material from the tooth.

When the decay has been removed, the tooth will be filled. This involves placing the composite material into the hole in layers, with a special light being shone on each layer to speed up the setting process.

The aftercare

It is often advisable to avoid hot food and drinks for a few hours after having a filling. This is because some of your mouth will be numb from the local anaesthetic, and so there is a risk of burning it without realising.

It is important to avoid decay in the future. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth and around the gumline, and cutting down on the amount of sugary food you eat.

Replacing fillings

We often get asked whether it is a good idea to replace amalgam fillings with white ones.

We usually advise against this if it’s just because of the way they look. However if an old amalgam filling needs replacing because, for example, it is cracked or there is more decay, then it may be worth replacing it with a white one.

It is also important to see the hygienist on a regular basis as recommended by your dentist. If you would like to know more about changing to white fillings, please ask next time you visit us.

We hope we have answered all your questions about fillings, but if there is anything else you would like to know please get in touch – we’ll be happy to help.

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This page was last updated on the 12 Aug 2020

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