If you have a cavity and the damage isn’t too extensive, your dentist will suggest you get a filling. Fillings protect teeth from further damage, and they restore them to their natural function. There are four kinds of materials you can choose from for fillings: gold, porcelain, amalgam, and composite resin. The type of material you choose will ultimately determine what the procedure looks like to apply the filling.
Filling a Cavity — The Procedure
No matter the type of material, the procedure for filling a cavity begins the same way. The dentist first makes sure the patient is comfortable. For a filling, dentists will sometimes begin by drying the gum around where they will apply the filling and applying a numbing gel. The gel keeps the patient from feeling The Needle, with which the dentist injects a local anesthetic.
Needles aren’t always required. New dental technologies, such as the Solea Laser, allows dentists to place fillings without anesthetics and with virtually no pain. But unless a dentist has a Solea Laser or a device like it, they will have to apply an anesthetic.
After preparing the patient, the dentist will remove decayed tooth material with a high-speed hand piece, commonly referred to as a dental drill. After the dentist uses the high-speed hand piece, they will switch to a low-speed hand piece and then hand tools to remove remaining decay.
After they have removed decay, the dentist will clean and disinfect the area around the cavity.
For amalgam fillings, the dentist then mixes ingredients that make up the amalgam. When amalgam is first mixed, it’s soft and pliable, which allows dentists to shape it. The dentist then compacts the soft amalgam onto the tooth and carves it into a tooth shape. The amalgam will harden in a few minutes.
Composite Resin Fillings
For a composite resin filling, the dentist will next take note of the patient’s tooth color and select or mix a resin that matches. They may do this before preparing the patient.
After selecting a resin, they’ll wash the affected tooth with acid. The acid forms tiny holes in the tooth into which the resin will take hold and bond.
After applying acid, the dentist will then dry the tooth and prime it with a priming and bonding agent. They will then apply the resin. Once applied, the dentist will shape it and place a UV light over it. The light will cure the resin so it hardens.
Gold and Porcelain Fillings
The procedure for applying gold and porcelain inlays and onlays is much the same. After preparing the teeth, the dentist will take an imprint or scan of the teeth, which they will send to a dental lab. The lab will make and prepare the inlay (a filling placed inside or in the middle of a tooth) or onlay (a filling place on the top or edge of a tooth).
During a second visit, the dentist will place the inlays/onlays using a dental cement or adhesive agent.
All Filling Procedures End the Same
At the end of a procedure, the last thing a dentist will do is to always adjust the filling to make sure it doesn’t hit other teeth. The dentist will have their patient bite down on a piece of carbon paper to determine if the filling is too high. The carbon will rub off in the place where the filling touches opposing teeth. If a filling is too high, the dentist will file it down.
If you have a cavity, contact White River Dental in Columbus, Indiana today. We’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Our highly-trained staff specializes in treating patients with care and making sure they’re comfortable. Call or contact us today to set up an appointment.