When tooth decay occurs, it may wear out the tooth enamel, making the tooth sensitive or even painful. Dental fillings can be the best technique for treating tooth decay and cavities. When repairing tooth decay and cavities, the dentist starts by removing the decayed portion of the tooth. The dentist then uses an ideal type of dental filling to fill the tooth. Dental fillings are also suitable for repairing cracked or broken teeth. If your teeth are worn out, you can also restore them using dental fillings. Get in touch with us at the Northridge Dentist to explore a wide range of dental filling solutions.

Dental Filling Procedure

If you are planning to get dental fillings, you may not be sure about what the process entails. After visiting the dental office during the first dental appointment, the dentist will start by conducting a thorough oral exam. The oral examination aims at determining whether you are a good candidate for dental fillings.

The dentist may pose some questions regarding your medical history. The dentist may also seek to know whether you are allergic to any type of medication. After establishing that you are a good candidate for a dental filling, the dentist will prepare you for the filling process.

The first step entails applying local anesthesia on the area around the tooth to be filled. The dentist then removes the decayed portion of the tooth using an air abrasion equipment, a laser, or a drill. The equipment the dentist uses to remove the decayed part of the tooth will depend on the comfort level of the dentist and the equipment the dentist may have invested in. The ideal equipment for removing tooth decay will also depend on the location and the extent of the decay.

After removing the decayed part of the tooth, the dentist will clean the tooth to remove bacteria and debris. Sometimes, the decay may be situated next to the roots of your teeth. If this is the case, the dentist may have to place a protective material to help protect the nerves of the tooth. Some of the protective materials that your dentist may use include composite resin, glass ionomer, or any other protective material.

The dentist will apply the filling material in layers. The filling material is usually in the form of a paste that flows into the space made by the dentist after removing the cavities. After applying the filling material in layers, the dentist will use a special light to harden or cure each layer of the filling materials.

As the filling hardens, it attaches and bonds with the rest of the tooth. After completing the layering of the filling material, the dentist will reshape the composite material to attain the desired shape. The dentist will also trim off any excess material from the tooth and trim the tooth. The dentist may request you to bite gently on the filled tooth to ensure that your bite is correct. The dentist will trim and shape the filling material until your bite feels normal.

Commonly Used Filling Materials

With the advancement in dental technology, various types of filling materials are available in the market. Depending on the condition of your teeth as well as your preferences, your dentist may use porcelain, silver amalgam, composite resin, and plastic dental fillings, among others. Silver amalgam fillings normally consist of silver, zinc, copper, and tin metals. The dentist may also fill your teeth using a glass ionomer. Glass ionomer is a material that contains tiny glass particles.

Additional factors that your dentist may consider when choosing the ideal dental filling include the extent of the tooth decay and your budget. Different dental fillings offer different benefits and come with different prices. As you choose the right filling material for your teeth, you can go by the recommendation of the dentist. You may also consider the extent of your dental insurance coverage.

Gold Fillings

Often known as cast gold fillings, the fillings are made using gold. The main advantage of gold fillings is its durability. The fillings may last for ten to fifteen years or longer. Gold fillings do not corrode, and with proper care, they may serve for many years.

Gold fillings are also strong and can withstand force, even if you chew on hard objects. Therefore, you do not have to avoid your favorite foods for the fear that they may damage your dental fillings.

Many people choose cast gold fillings because of their high aesthetic standards. Gold is a precious metal, and most people associate it with elegance and class. Some patients attest that gold fillings are appealing to look at, and they are more presentable than the silver amalgam dental fillings.

The downside of gold dental fillings is their costs. Compared to other types of dental fillings, cast gold fillings cost a lot more. For instance, gold fillings cost almost ten times more than their silver amalgam counterparts.

You may have to make more than one visit to the dental office for gold dental fillings. Unlike other dental fillings that may only call for one office visit, you may have to make at least two visits to the dental office to have gold dental fillings fitted.

If the dentist places a gold filling right next to a silver amalgam filling, a galvanic shock may occur. A galvanic shock refers to a sharp pain that may make you uncomfortable. The shock appears typically due to the interaction between the two metals and your saliva. The reaction of the two metals and your saliva will cause an electric current. However, this is a rare occurrence that most people do not experience.

As much as many people consider gold fillings beautiful, they may not match the original color of your teeth. Some people prefer dental fillings that match the rest of their teeth. Gold fillings will have a distinct color, and it will be easy for people to tell that you have dental fillings.

Silver Amalgam Fillings

Compared to composite dental fillings, silver amalgams are more durable and may last between 10 and 15 years. They will automatically outlive the tooth-colored composite fillings.

Silver amalgam fillings are also durable and can withstand pressure as you chew on hard foods. Silver amalgam fillings are more affordable than gold and composite fillings.

Many people dismiss silver amalgam fillings due to their low aesthetic standards. The fillings are often greyish and will not match the natural color of your teeth.

To hold the silver amalgam fillings, the dentist has to remove some parts of the tooth. The dentist may end up removing some healthy parts of the tooth to make room for amalgam fillings. The fillings may also discolor the tooth by creating a greyish hue to the surrounding structure of your tooth.

By using silver amalgam dental fillings, your teeth will be more susceptible to cracks and fractures. In the presence of hot or cold liquids, it is common for the teeth to expand and contract. In comparison to other dental fillings, amalgam fillings experience a far more comprehensive degree of expansion and contraction. Therefore, the use of amalgam fillings may subject your teeth to a higher degree of cracking.

Silver amalgam fillings usually contain mercury as one of the components. The fillings may not be ideal, especially for people who are allergic to mercury. Around 1% of people have allergic reactions to mercury. If you are within this 1% of the world population, the silver amalgam fillings may not be ideal for you.

Some people dismiss silver amalgam fillings on the grounds of posing a risk to your health. The argument is that the amalgam fillings release a small amount of mercury in the form of vapor. If you inhale this vapor, your lungs may absorb it. High levels of exposure to mercury may lead to adverse effects in the kidney and the brain. However, there is no proven link between health problems and amalgam fillings. The FDA considers silver amalgam fillings safe for use among both adults and children. Many dentists across the world recommend silver amalgam fillings to their patients.

Composite Dental Fillings

If you are seeking a dental filling that can match the color of your teeth and give your teeth a natural look, you should consider tooth-colored composite fillings. Mainly, dentists use composite dental fillings when filling the front teeth or other visible parts of a tooth. It is easy for a dentist to choose a composite filling that matches the natural color of your teeth.

Composite dental fillings bond to the structure of the teeth. By bonding to the tooth structure, the fillings help to provide further support to the tooth. In addition to being used as a filling material for decayed teeth, composite filling also comes in handy for repairing chipped, broken, or worn out teeth.

Composite fillings may offer an advantage over silver amalgam fillings because the dentist does not have to remove a large portion of the tooth to make room for the filling material. The doctor will only remove a little part of the tooth, and this limits the effects on the structure of the tooth.

Despite the immense benefits of composite fillings, they also have some disadvantages. Composite fillings are less durable than gold or silver amalgam fillings. Unlike gold or silver amalgam fillings, which may last for a minimum of 10-15 years, composite fillings last for a minimum of five years.

The composite fillings are more susceptible to damage and may not withstand the pressure that comes with chewing hard foods. Composite fillings are more prone to damage if the dentist uses them to fill large cavities. The dentist will require more time than in the case of amalgam fillings to place composite fillings and bond them with your teeth. The fillings may take up to 20 minutes longer to place than amalgam or gold fillings.

You may have to make several visits to the dental office, especially if you are using composite for inlays and Onlays. Depending on where the dentist places the composite filling material, the material may be prone to chipping.

Compared to silver amalgam fillings, composite fillings are more expensive. They may cost up to two times the cost of silver amalgam fillings. However, the composite fillings may be much cheaper than gold fillings.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

The glass ionomer fillings are made from a certain type of glass material combined with acrylic. Glass ionomer is ideal for dental fillings below the gum line because it helps to protect the root of the tooth. Glass ionomer filling is also an ideal filling material for small children. The filling releases fluoride to the tooth, and this helps to shield the tooth from further decay.

However, it is important to note that glass ionomer filling is more prone to damage, especially when exposed to pressure. Glass ionomer fillings are less durable than composite fillings. The fillings may last for up to five years. However, there has been a constant improvement in glass ionomer fillings. Currently, glass ionomer fillings may last much longer, especially if placed in the appropriate areas.


You can choose to go for dental fillings made from ceramics. Ceramics dental fillings are expensive, and their cost may be almost the same as the cost of gold fillings. The main benefit of ceramic filling is resistance to stains. With proper care, ceramic fillings may last for more than fifteen years.

Indirect Dental Fillings

Upon making the initial visit to the dental office and after the dentist examines your teeth, he/she may recommend indirect dental fillings. For indirect fillings, you have to make at least two visits to the dental office, mainly because the fillings are made in a dental laboratory. The doctor may recommend the indirect fillings if you do not have enough tooth structure to support the conventional dental filling.

When you make the first visit to the dental office, the dentist removes the decayed part of the old dental filling. The dentist then makes an impression of your tooth as well as the teeth around it. The dentist sends the impression to a dental laboratory that will make the indirect fillings.

As you wait for the indirect filling material to be ready, the dentist places temporary filling on the teeth to prevent the prepared tooth from further damage. When you make a second visit to the dental office, the dentist places the indirect filling on the tooth. After confirming that the fit of the composite filling is perfect, the dentist cements the filling in place.

The two types of indirect dental fillings are dental Inlays and Onlays/partial crowns. Dental Inlays are almost similar to the conventional dental fillings. The entire Inlays lie within the cusps located on the tooth's chewing surface. Dental Onlays are more extensive than Inlays. The Onlays may cover one or more cusps and are not confined within the cusps.

Dental Onlays and Inlays are advantageous because they are more durable than conventional dental fillings. The common materials used in making Inlays and Onlays include composite resin, gold, or porcelain. If you have a weakened tooth, Onlays would be the perfect filling. An Inlay is almost the same as a dental crown and can cover the surface of the tooth, and help to distribute force to the other surfaces of the tooth.

You may also go for direct dental Inlays and Onlays, which follow the same procedure as the indirect Inlays and Onlays. However, the direct Inlays are prepared in the mouth, and the dentist can place them in one visit. The dentist will recommend direct or indirect Onlays, depending on the health of your tooth and your cosmetic concerns.

Temporary Dental Fillings

The dentist may recommend temporary dental fillings under certain circumstances. The fillings may be ideal if you require more than one dental appointment. For instance, after the dentist prepares your teeth before placing a gold filling or indirect fillings, he/she may first place temporary dental fillings.

Your dentist may also recommend a temporary filling as you undergo a root canal treatment. The temporary filling gives the tooth some time to settle. It prevents the irritation of the pulp and enables the dentist to continue with the root canal treatment.

Temporary dental fillings may also come in handy for emergency dental treatment. The dentist may place a temporary dental filling for an emergency dental treatment such as a toothache. Suggest, as their name suggests, temporary fillings do not last long. Rarely will you stay with the temporary fillings for more than one month, the temporary fillings are prone to wear and fracture within one month. The dentist always removes the temporary filling and replaces it with a permanent filling. Remaining for too long with temporary fillings may lead to infection of the tooth. You may also end up developing other dental problems for staying too long with temporary dental fillings.

How Safe are Dental Fillings?

In the past, people have raised concerns regarding the safety of dental fillings, especially the silver amalgam fillings. Critics argue that the amalgam fillings have mercury, which is a toxic substance. People argue that amalgam fillings may cause several illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.

However, depending on the research done by the American Dental Association and the FDA, there is no proof that amalgam fillings may have negative health implications.

The causes of illnesses like autism, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease remain mysterious. Amalgams contain mercury. However, upon mixing the amalgam with other metals like tin, zinc, silver, and copper, they form a stable alloy. Dentists from all over the world have used this alloy for thousands of years to restore decayed teeth.

In some cases, silver amalgam dental fillings may not be ideal for pregnant women. If you have a medical condition, which makes you more sensitive to mercury, you should discuss your options with the dentist.

Caring for Teeth with Dental Fillings

After placement of dental fillings, you have to take good care of your teeth to ensure that the fillings remain intact for longer. It is advisable to ensure that you maintain proper oral hygiene. You can maintain good hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. You should use a fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth because it prevents cavities from progressing. You should also rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash daily.

You should contact your dentist immediately if you suspect that there may be something wrong with your dental filling. For instance, you may suspect that your dental filling is leaking or cracked. If the filling does not fit perfectly in your tooth, saliva and other dirt may leak into the tooth and lead to further tooth decay. Your dentist will assess the tooth and probably take an x-ray to help him/her adopt the best treatment procedure.

Some of the warning signs that you should look out for after placement of dental fillings include extreme tooth sensitivity and abnormal pain in the filled tooth. You should also look out for cracks on the filled teeth and any missing parts of the filling material.

What to Expect

After placement of dental fillings, the sensitivity of the filled tooth is common but should not be extreme. Some of the factors that may lead to tooth sensitivity include sweet foods, temperature changes, and applying pressure on the filled tooth. However, you do not have to worry because the sensitivity will resolve on its own within several weeks. You do not require pain relievers to reduce sensitivity. However, you may consider staying away from factors causing tooth sensitivity.

You may also experience pain in the dental fillings. If you feel pain while biting, you should go back to the dentist. You experiencing pain while biting is a sign that the dental fillings are interfering with your bite. Your dentist can reshape the filling to reduce the discomfort.

If you feel pain as your teeth touch, you do not necessarily have to go back to the dentist. This pain may occur due to touching two different metal surfaces of your filled teeth. This pain will resolve on its own within a short period.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me

If you have suffered tooth decay, cracked, or broken teeth, a dental filling may be the perfect solution. We at the Northridge Dentist can assess your teeth and recommend the best treatment option. Contact us at 818-875-0216 and speak to one of our dentists.