What is a filling?
A filling is a dental restoration used to repair damaged teeth. A filling is commonly used to repair cavities caused by decay, or rebuild broken teeth.
A filling removes any decay and bacteria from the tooth, to prevent the cavity progressing through the enamel and dentin, and protects the pulp, which is the where the tooth nerves are.At Oldmachar Dental Care we use a material called composite for our fillings. This is a white coloured material made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic particles added to a resin base. Composite fillings are a bio-compatible material and match the look of your natural teeth for a pleasing aesthetic finish.
What is involved in the treatment?
Step 1, Preparing for treatment:
Firstly, the dentist will apply a numbing gel so they can place anaesthetic in the area to be worked on. The numbing gel will prevent you feeling the anaesthetic injection, keeping the whole procedure pain free.
Next, a rubber dam is placed. This is a thin piece of rubber that goes over your mouth and around the teeth where the dentist will be working. This helps to keep the area dry so that the composite resin can properly bond to the tooth. Another tool your dentist might offer you is Optragate®, which is a soft ring that is placed beneath your lips to keep your mouth open. Depending on where your filling is and on which material is used, your dentist may not elect to use a rubber dam or Optragate®.
Step 2, Removing decay and damaged tooth substance:
To prepare the tooth for the filling, the dentist first needs to remove the damaged tooth substance and bacteria. To do this, the dentist will use what is called a high-speed handpiece, which makes a little whistling noise. You may know this as the “dental drill”.
The high-speed handpiece quickly whisks away the decay and damaged tooth structure. While the dentist is using it, the dental assistant will be holding the high-volume suction in your mouth as the handpiece shoots a jet of water into your mouth whilst it’s working. The suction removes the water and any debris from your tooth. The dentist and nurse may also use a low-volume suction or saliva ejector to help remove any excess saliva during treatment.
Next, the dentist will switch to the slow-speed handpiece to refine the preparation and help remove any remaining portions of decayed tooth. This handpiece is slower than the high-speed handpiece and does not emit a whistling sound. Because it is slower, you may feel a vibrating sensation in your tooth.
The dentist may choose to finish removing any remaining decay with some hand instruments. These are simply small, metal tools that the dentist can use to refine the area where the filling will be placed or to remove any remaining tooth decay.During the procedure of removing the tooth decay, the dentist will most likely use an air/water unit. This is a small attachment that can spray either air or water into your mouth. It is useful to rinse away any debris that is obstructing the dentist’s view of your tooth.
Step 3, Making the Restoration:
Now that the damaged portion of your tooth is gone, the dentist will replace the missing tooth structure with a filling to restore the tooth’s function and appearance.
When placing a composite resin filling, the dentist needs to prepare the tooth surface so it enables the composite resin to bond to the tooth more strongly, and prevents it falling out. To do this, the dentist will apply a material called Etch that roughens the tooth surface. The Etch is then washed away, and a priming and bonding agent is then applied. The priming and bonding agent further help to form a strong bond between the tooth and the eventual filling.
Next the dentist will use the composite resin filling material and apply it inside of your tooth. This will have been chosen to match the colour of your teeth exactly. After this, the dentist will make sure that the composite is evenly spread out in your tooth and that there are no air bubbles.
The dentist will then ‘cure’ the composite material, to harden it and make it become very strong. To carry out the curing process, the dentist will shine a bright blue light on the composite. If you have a particularly deep cavity, this process may be done in a few layers.
To finalise the treatment, the dentist will ask you to bite on a piece of carbon paper. This checks your ‘bite’ to make sure the filling is the correct height. The dentist will then making any amendments if necessary.
After having a composite filling, you can eat and drink again right away however we advise that you wait until the anaesthesia has worn off to avoid accidentally biting the inside of your mouth. This could take about 1-2 hours to start wearing off, but can vary from patient to patient.
Following your filling treatment, you may feel sensitive for a few days. Using a sensitive toothpaste can help whilst things settle down. If symptoms persist, or become more severe, please call us for further advice and care.
Your dentist and hygienist will advise you about your routine oral health care regime, to help prolong the life of your filling.