Fillings – Dental Treatment

Introduction –Fillings

A filling is a technique used to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives a filling to the patient, first the decayed tooth material is removed, the affected area is cleaned, and then the cleaned out cavity is filled with a filling material. A filling also helps prevent further decay by closing off spaces where bacteria can enter. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (also known as tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (which is an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc sometimes).

Different types of fillings-

  • Gold fillings-
    • Dentists need to order these fillings from a dental laboratory and then cemented into place.
    • Gum tissues can tolerate gold inlays very well and may last for more than 20 years.
    • Hence, many authorities consider gold as the best filling material.
    • Conversely, it is often the most costly choice and needs multiple visits.
    • Porcelain fillings-
      • A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.
      • These are called inlays or onlays.
      • These fillings are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth in the dentists’ clinic.
      • They generally resist staining.
      • These fillings can be matched to the color of the tooth.
      • The cost is similar to gold.
      • Composite (plastic) resins-
        • These can be matched to be the same color as the patient’s teeth and thus can be used where a natural appearance is desired (such as front teeth).
        • The components are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they get hardened.
        • Composites may chip or wear out after some time, so it may not be the ideal material for large fillings.
        • These fillings can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco.
        • They do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to ten years.
        • Amalgam (silver) fillings
          • They are resistant to wear  and tear
          • These fillings are relatively inexpensive.
          • Conversely, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations due to their dark color.
          • They are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.

Procedure – Fillings

  • Dentist needs to test the area to determine if all the decay has been removed.
  • The dentist uses a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled.
  • The decayed area is removed by using a drill, air abrasion instrument or laser.
  • The choice of instrument depends on the individual dentist’s comfort level, training, and investment in the particular piece of equipment as well as location and extent of the decay.
  • Once the decay has been removed, the dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris.
  • If the decay is near the root, the dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve.
  • Generally, after the filling is in, dentist will finish and polish it.

Additional steps may be required for tooth-colored fillings:

  • After dentist removes the decay and cleans the area, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers.
  • A special light that cures each layer is applied.
  • When the multilayering process is completed, the dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration.


- Link of interest: Twitter Fillings – Dental Treatment.


This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

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