Fillings are a way to restore damaged, cracked, broken or decayed teeth back to their normal shape and function.
A filling involves removal of the decayed material and cleaning of the affected area. A lining material is generally then placed over the nerve of the tooth to protect it, and then a filling material is placed to restore the tooth.
There are many different types and sizes of fillings. They range from smaller, simple fillings that can last for up to and over 15 years, to larger, more complex fillings. Whereas these larger fillings often last a long time, they tend to break more easily and are regarded as intermediate restorations that may require crowning in the long-term.
The main types of filling include:
Amalgam Fillings (‘Silver’)
These are resistant to wear and are generally less expensive. They are more suited to teeth in the back of the mouth.
Composite Fillings (white)
These are matched to the colour of the tooth and are used in more visible areas. In some cases these fillings may not be suitable for larger restorations in teeth in the back of the mouth as they may fracture or become worn.
Layered Composite Fillings (e.g. HFO, Mycerium, Italy)
These are a premium composite / white filling. The material is carefully placed in layers which mimick the layers (enamel and dentine) of natural tooth structure. This is known as biomimetics. We use this type of restoration where the highest aesthetic standard is required. These fillings will typically be placed under rubber dam using high power magnification.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
This material is used for some smaller fillings. It may also be used as a short-term filling in a tooth (see below).
Short-term fillings are generally considered those that will be in the tooth for a period of less than 6 months. There are a variety of reasons that a short-term filling may be done on a tooth. For example, if a tooth is painful and the decay is close to the nerve, a filling with a painkiller in it can sometimes be placed in the tooth and it is left in place for a few weeks to see if the pain settles. This type of filling is called a dressing. If after this period, the tooth is not painful or symptomatic, the dressing may be removed and a more long-term filling can be placed in the tooth.