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The idea of dental fillings calls to mind the image of a black or metal spot on the side or top of a tooth. However, with modern advances in dental fillings, this isn’t always the case anymore. With advances in the technology and materials used for dental fillings, in many cases, a filling is nearly indistinguishable from your natural dental surface and can last for years without needing replacement or repairs. But what are dental fillings, and when are they necessary?

Dentists use dental fillings in cases where the enamel on the outside or inside of the tooth is weak or damaged. The most common causes of this are cavities and surface damage, such as chipped or worn enamel. In these cases, a filling protects the inside of the tooth, as well as seals over any exposed the areas. Before placing a filling, the tooth may need some special treatment. In the case of cavities, the cavity itself is drilled, cleaned, and dried before placing the filling. With advances in technology, we can now drill using a focused laser, removing the discomfort caused by a drill. For other uses such as surface protection and chipped tooth repair, the enamel of the tooth may need a light sanding to give the filling a larger area to cling to. After this, your dentist will install your filling of choice.

Types of Dental Fillings

In the past, people made dental fillings out of a mercury composite that could contain up to 50% mercury. With our modern-day knowledge that mercury is poisonous in even small doses, dental fillings made of mercury have been largely done away with. Modern metal fillings come in different alloys, including gold, silver, zinc, and other metals. These metals provide support and add stability to your tooth and are more durable than other non-metal options for fillings. However, they are much more noticeable on the surface of your teeth.

The second type of dental filling is a ceramic or resin filling. These fillings use various forms of ceramic or other bonding agents to fill the space left behind in your tooth. These kinds of fillings are most often used for repairing visible teeth, as they can match the color of the surrounding natural teeth. They are also less resilient than their metallic counterparts and may need replacement more often. While ceramic and resin fillings are much less expensive than metal fillings, they are not made to withstand the same amount of stress, making them less practical for your molars and other high-impact teeth.

Other, more recent forms of dental fillings include indirect fillings, which allow your dentist to repair a tooth that would have otherwise been too damaged to save. These can take two visits to install, and involve your dentist taking a cast of the damaged area in order to make a custom-designed filling for the space. There are also glass-based fillings that will release fluoride over time, helping to protect your surrounding teeth from decay in the long run.

If you are in the Mt Pleasant, SC area and are interested in getting a filling done, or have other dental concerns, contact our office. Here at Crossland Dental Associates, we are committed to making sure your teeth are healthy and well-protected, so you can smile with confidence.

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