Our dentists can fix a cavity or repair minor dental damage with a composite dental filling in Sacramento, California. Composite fillings are safer for your smile than metal or amalgam fillings, and they can be shaded to blend in with the rest of your teeth, making them almost unnoticeable to others. Call (916) 481-2000 today for your appointment at Sierra Oaks Dental with Dr. Peter Kim or Dr. William Altig.

What Is a Filling?

A filling is treatment used to fill a cavity in a tooth to stop or limit tooth decay. Fillings have been made of varying materials over the years, from various metals to other minerals. Now, the most common material used is a composite acrylic material.

Why Get a Filling?

A filling is the first line of defense after tooth decay has started and cavities have begun to form. If decay is not caught early enough, then a more intensive treatment may be necessary. Fillings are also a viable option for small chips in teeth.

A filling replaces a part of the tooth where decay occurred. The filling also seals off the surface of the cavity to prevent further decay in that area. As decay progresses towards the center of a tooth, the risk of infection of the pulp of the tooth increases. If the pulp is infected the tooth may require a root canal or extraction, depending on the level of infection.

Tooth decay and cavities are typically caused by bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria consumes sugars and small pieces of food in our mouths and secretes acid in the process, which eats away at the enamel of our teeth. Cavities can also be attributed to habits of chewing on objects other than food.

Benefits of a Filling

Fillings are a great treatment option for cavities or acute chips of teeth. The composite material that is used in modern dental medicine has many benefits compared to metal fillings. Composite material can be matched to the natural color of the surrounding teeth, helping your smile maintain its natural appearance.

Amalgam and other metallic fillings can stain the teeth over time as well, but more than this cosmetic downside, they typically contain trace amounts of lead. Due to this, amalgam fillings are far less common in dentistry today.

If a filling is diagnosed but goes untreated, then tooth decay may continue festering to the point of needing a crown. A crown can cost more than twice as much as a filling, so it is best to have treatment done as soon as possible to avoid more pain and expenses.

The Process of a Filling

When a filling is decided upon as the best treatment option by the patient and the doctor, an appointment will be scheduled for roughly 45 to 60 minutes. Our dentists will assess the area that requires a filling and determine if drilling needs to be done to remove decay or to prepare the tooth for the filling.

Our dentists will then apply the filling and adjust it to match your natural bite. They will use occlusion paper, intraoral photos and X-rays for this step. Once the filling has been placed in the restoration area, the dentist will consult with the patient for the comfort of their bite. Depending on the patient, they may not notice a discrepancy for 2 to 3 days after treatment

Depending on the size and range of the decay or chip in the tooth, the filling could be treating anywhere from 1 to 4 surfaces of the tooth. If numerous teeth in a quadrant of the mouth require fillings, then we can typically treat them in the same visit because the area is already numb from local anesthetic.

Care & Maintenance

After receiving fillings, it is best to wait till all numbness has gone away before eating or drinking. If you are still numb and try eating or drinking, you may accidentally bite your soft tissue (cheek or tongue) or burn your mouth.

Numbness duration can vary from patient to patient. One factor that can be monitored is the level of hydration of the patient. Proper hydration can aid in the metabolizing of the local anesthetic, which means it can shorten the length of time it takes for it to wear off.

To care for a filling, you should be sure to pay extra attention to the area during at-home care. This means proper brushing and flossing. Depending on the location of the filling it may be difficult to floss, and at times, floss may break when caring for the area near the filling.

If you experience your floss tearing or ripping, then you should consult our office. This could mean that you have crowding, decay or the filling may not be flush with the surface of the tooth, creating a point for the floss to get snagged. We may suggest using dental tape to solve this problem, which is like floss but wider and less susceptible to tearing.

Cost of a Filling

The cost of a filling can vary from patient to patient depending on the location and the number of surfaces that are being treated on the tooth. Also, dental insurance benefits play a factor in the cost and vary from patient to patient.

What can be said is that a filling will always be less expensive than a crown, root canal, dental implant or other prosthodontic. These are all treatments that arise if tooth decay is not addressed when a filling is diagnosed. Always consult with our team to find out what treatment is best for your oral health.