Teeth Fillings

Why do I need a filling and how is it done? 

Tooth substance can be lost in several ways, and once lost it often has to be repaired by your dentist.  

The main reason of course that a tooth needs to be repaired is because of tooth decay. This is simply when bacterial invade the dentine of the tooth and eat away the organic material in it and dissolve the mineral of the tooth with the acid that they produce as a by-product of their digestion. 

If you don’t come regularly to the dentist and have your teeth checked it can be amazing how quickly a hole can develop in a tooth especially if are partial to sugary food and drinks. 

The other ways that a tooth can be damaged are by breakage, acid erosion which is very common, and wear – either toothbrush abrasion or tooth grinding which we call bruxing. 

In the practice we only use white fillings which are called composite resins, and some glass ionomers.  I personally stopped using amalgam fillings in about 2005 because I felt that their colour was poor and that the white fillings had become strong enough for regular use. The newer white fillings are made of a silica nano-particle filler in a polymerizing resin. This produces a  material that is strong and can adhere to the tooth using a suitable bonding agent which results in a rebuilt tooth looking very natural. This filling material can be used to re-contour teeth or replace lost tooth tissue. 

The process of  placing a filling involves initially anaesthetising the tooth, although occasionally this is not required. The gum near the tooth to be treated is painted with topical anaesthetic cream to take away almost all of the sting of the injection which is then given to numb off the tooth so that you don’t feel tenderness while the decay is removed. 

Dental decay is painlessly removed with very small diamond and stainless steel burs, sometimes we can even scrape away diseased tissue with very small metal spoons. Once the decay is removed the cavity is isolated to keep it dry and metal shaping foil or clear plastic strips are used to enable the filling to take on the exact shape of the tooth before it was damaged. 

A bonding agent is first painted into the prepared cavity and then  the filling is packed into the cavity in small increments and cured with an intense blue light which sets the filling material. This process is repeated over and over until the contour of the tooth is rebuilt. The shaping strips are removed and the white filling is given a final light cure, smoothed and shaped to fit into the bite and polished to allow flossing and cleaning. 

Once completed the restoration is immediately ready to eat on once the numbness has gone from your mouth. 

Tooth coloured restorations can also be custom made for your tooth in the laboratory, we normally call these crowns, bridges, veneers, inlays or onlays. This does involve two or more visits to fabricate the restoration and always involve more work and therefore more cost, but they have the advantage of having even better strength and aesthetics. However for normal use in small, moderate and even large restorations, composite resin filling material can often serve as a long lasting filling. Check with your dentist and I am sure he or she will advise you of the best material for your situation.  


For a short article on the materials included and the advantages and disadvantages of composite restorations see: 


Do you have a question?

If you have a question regarding Dental Restorations ask Dr Martin Jest directly.  Simply fill in the form at the side and we will get back to you as soon as possible.