Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are a restorative procedure dentists use to restore teeth suffering from mild and moderate decay. Your dentist can also recommend them if your teeth have visible holes, you are experiencing tooth pain when biting down or chewing, or your teeth are sensitive to sugary, hot, or cold foods. The most effective way to determine whether you require tooth fillings is by scheduling an appointment with a seasoned Beverly Hills dentist. Dr Joseph Goodman is dedicated to enhancing your oral health and overall well-being. We treat patients with care and precision, using state-of-the-art equipment to ensure natural aesthetics and longevity. We can answer your questions comprehensively, guide you on what to expect, discuss various treatments and dental filling materials, and ensure you are comfortable and confident in all your decisions.

All You Need to Know Dental Fillings

Dentists use dental fillings to repair worn, damaged, or damaged teeth. The fillings are designed from materials capable of filling parts of a destroyed tooth.

Fillings cannot wholly repair every damage to the teeth, but they could be necessary to maintain the structure of the teeth and ensure that they function as they should.

Factors That Could Affect Your Dental Filling Candidacy

Your dental practitioner will assess different factors to determine whether fillings are the best treatment option for you. These factors include the following:

  • Tooth stability — Fillings need a stable and solid tooth structure to reinforce the dental filling material. A seriously weakened or damaged tooth cannot hold a filling. In this case, your dentist can recommend an alternative dental treatment.
  • The extent of your tooth's decay — If your tooth’s decay is minor and only impacts the outer parts of your tooth, a filling is sufficient. Nevertheless, other restorative treatments, like root canal therapy or dental crowns, might be necessary if the damage has advanced extensively and affected the inner part.
  • Sensitivities or allergies — Some people can have sensitivities to some dental filling materials, like silver amalgam fillings or composite resin fillings. If you have known allergies, your dental practitioner could consider other dental filling materials that best suit your needs.
  • Oral health — Good dental hygiene routines are crucial to increasing the success rate of your fillings. As a filling candidate, you must maintain good oral hygiene, including routine flossing, brushing, and dental appointments. Neglecting your oral health could lead to more decay and sabotage the durability of your dental filling.
  • General oral health — A candidate for fillings should be in excellent overall health. Before considering cavity fillings, address any underlying dental issues, like periodontal or tooth infections.

Different Types of Filling Materials, Their Advantages, and Disadvantages

There are various types of dental filling materials today. The decayed tooth's location, the decay's severity, filling material cost, your insurance coverage, and the dentist’s recommendation determine the suitable filling material. These materials include the following:

Amalgams (Silver Fillings)

Dental amalgam is a combination of metals, comprising a powdered alloy of copper, tin, and silver and liquid mercury. The chemical characteristics of mercury permit it to react with and bind together the tin, copper, and silver particles, forming the amalgam.

Their pros include the following:

  • Strength — They can withstand your chewing force
  • Cost-effective — They are more affordable than composite resin fillings
  • Durability — Amalgams can last ten to fifteen years and mainly outlast tooth-colored dental fillings.
  • The cons of silver dental fillings include the following:
  • Damaging your tooth structure — Sometimes dentists extract healthy tooth sections to create a space big enough to reinforce the silver filling.
  • Poor aesthetics — Amalgam dental fillings do not match the patient’s natural tooth color.
  • Fractures and cracks — Although teeth contract and expand when they come into contact with cold or hot liquids, eventually leading to cracks or fractures, unlike other filling materials, silver-filling materials might experience more contraction and expansion, resulting in frequent cracks and breakages.
  • Discoloration — Silver dental fillings can form a grayish hue on the nearby tooth structure.
  • Allergies — Some patients are allergic to the mercury in amalgam dental fillings.

The mercury present in silver fillings emits low amounts of mercury in vapor form that the lungs can inhale and absorb. Exposure to high amounts of mercury is linked to harmful effects on the kidneys and brain.

Gold Dental Fillings

Gold fillings consist of an alloy of copper, gold, and other metals.

The pros of gold fillings include the following:

  • Strength — They are capable of withstanding chewing force
  • Durability — Gold filling can last ten to fifteen years or longer and does not corrode.
  • Appearance — Some people find gold more appealing than silver fillings
  • The cons of gold fillings are:
  • Additional dental office visits — Fixing gold fillings requires two appointments with the dentist.
  • Affordability — They are more expensive than all other materials.
  • Aesthetics — Many patients dislike metal-colored fillings and prefer dental fillings that match the rest of the teeth.
  • Galvanic shock — If fixed immediately close to an amalgam filling, it could result in galvanic shock (sharp pain). Galvanic shock is the close interaction between the two metals and saliva, which leads to an electric current. However, it is a rare occurrence.

Composite Resin

Composite resin combines acrylic (plastic) resin that is strengthened with a powdered glass filler.

The benefits of composite resins include the following:

  • Versatility — Dentists use composite resin fillings to repair cracked and broken teeth.
  • Bonding to the tooth — Composite resin fillings micro-mechanically attach to your tooth structure, offering more support.
  • Appearance — Your dentist can match the color or shade of the composite resin fillings with your existing teeth’s color. Composite fillings are best suited for frontal or visible tooth parts.
  • Tooth-sparing preparation — When removing the decay, your dentist will remove less tooth structure than silver amalgam dental fillings.

The drawbacks of composite dental fillings are:

  • They take longer to fix — The process of fixing the composite resin filling can be longer than that of silver amalgam fillings.
  • Longevity — Composite fillings wear and tear more quickly than silver amalgam fillings, lasting about five (5) years.
  • Additional dental appointments — If your composite resins are for onlays or inlays, you might visit your dentist more than once.
  • They are more expensive — Composite resin fillings could double the silver amalgam fillings' price.
  • Chipping — Composite resin materials could chip off the tooth depending on where they are.

Other Teeth Filling Materials

Other available dental filling materials include:

  1. Glass Ionomer Fillings

They are designed from acrylic and a certain kind of glass material. Dentists use them for tooth fillings under your gum line and for dental fillings in minors (drilling is needed). Glass ionomers emit fluoride, which helps protect your tooth from more decay.

Nevertheless, glass ionomer is weaker than composite filling resin and is more vulnerable to fractures and wear and tear. Glass ionomer fillings can last for less than five years, with costs comparable to composite resin. The latest glass ionomer versions have longer lifespans.

  1. Ceramics Fillings

These dental fillings are made from porcelain and are more resistant to staining than composite resin. The material can last more than 15 years and could cost as much as gold.

What to Expect During Dental Filling Procedure

When preparing for your dental filling, your dentist will begin with a dental exam and thoroughly evaluate your oral health before the treatment. The examination will guide the dental practitioner in understanding your proper treatment.

Tooth fillings are a restorative and pain-free process because of the use of anesthesia. Following the routine dental procedure, you could use over-the-counter pain relievers.

Here is a comprehensive guide to the dental filling treatment process:

  1. Anesthesia For Pain Relief

Your dentist should ensure you are comfortable during the filling procedure since the dental work could cause anxiety. To alleviate discomfort, your dentist will do the following:

  • Pre-numbing gel — Before injecting local anesthesia, the dentist will apply a pre-numbing gel to the injection site. The gel numbs your injection area, making the injection substantially more comfortable.
  • Administering local anesthesia — Your dental practitioner will administer the anesthesia, which numbs your tooth and its nearby area. It will take around three to five minutes for your anesthesia to become effective after the injection.
  1. Extracting Decay

Decay could manifest as black or brown sites on your tooth, which can be soft and easily scraped off using a spoon excavator. Generally, dentists use a high-speed drill to extract the decayed part of the tooth. The drill is also effective at shaping your tooth for treatment.

The dentist uses dye to confirm that they have extracted all the decayed portions. The dye stains the existing tooth structure, which you cannot remineralize. It ensures that your tooth cavity is clean and only healthy tooth structure remains.

  1. Placing Your Filling Material

After selecting your filling material, your dentist will place it in your tooth cavities. The method your physician uses depends mainly on the material of your choice.

Your doctors will place your filling material layer after layer for composite and amalgam fillings. The layered method ensures you do not have underfilled or void areas, offering a secure and stable restoration.

  1. Allowing Your Filling to Set

The filling setting duration varies with the kind of material you use.

Amalgam filling sets within minutes; if your doctor is slow, it can set as they pack it into your cavity.

On the other hand, composite dental fillings require curing light to harden them. The light emits a frequency that stimulates the hardening process.

  1. Bite Alignment and Making Adjustments

Next, your physician will make the essential adjustments to the bite. The adjustments ensure the cavity fillings do not affect your chewing patterns and cause discomfort when biting down or chewing.

To realize this, the doctor will use an articulating paper to map out the bite. They will request that you bite down a couple of times to identify any regions of discomfort. Then, they will grind away the spots until the bite feels even and normal.

  1. Polishing and Finishes

Finally, the dentist will polish the filling to make it look attractive. This stage is painless and fast.

Dental Filling Durability

Depending on your type of dental filling, your restoration can last between five and fifteen years.

Other different factors that influence the lifetime of fillings include:

  • Diet — Acidic and sugar-rich diets and beverages could heighten the risk of decay around your tooth fillings. Limiting the intake of sugary drinks and snacks and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet helps you increase the longevity of the fillings.
  • Dental hygiene — Maintaining proper oral health practices, including flossing every day, brushing twice daily, and routine dentist visits, is essential for the durability of fillings. Poor dental hygiene could lead to recurring decay around your tooth filling, compromising its integrity.
  • Size and tooth filling location — The size and position of the dental filling will influence its lifespan. Tooth fillings in high-stress locations, like the molars, can wear and tear faster than in other sites of your mouth.
  • Chewing patterns — Habits like bruxism (grinding teeth) and clenching could exert excessive force on the fillings, resulting in their failure. Using a mouthguard could help safeguard dental fillings and increase their longevity.
  • Professional follow-up — You should visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups. Routine dental appointments and cleanings are essential for monitoring the condition of dental fillings and identifying any symptoms of decay or deterioration. The American Dental Association also recommends visiting your dentist if you have challenges chewing, sores in your mouth, loose teeth, bad breath, tooth sensitivity, swollen gums, bleeding gums when you floss and brush, or experience tooth pain.

How to Know When You Should Replace Fillings

While fillings could last for several years, you might replace them earlier if the following issues arise:

  • Wear and tear — Dental fillings could crack, chip, or wear down as time passes, resulting in an exposed or uneven tooth structure. Replacing the filling will stop further decay.
  • Sensitivity — If dental fillings cause persistent discomfort, it could indicate an issue with the filling, and a new replacement could be necessary.
  • Aesthetics — If you have composite resin and want a natural look, you could choose a replacement with newer composite resin materials that blend with your natural tooth color.
  • Your filing is discolored — Most patients prefer their tooth filing to match their surrounding teeth' natural color. That means you should replace your tooth-colored fillings if they have turned yellow or are darker than initially.
  • Recurrent decay — If your tooth decay develops around your filling, you should replace the restoration to extract the damaged portion and restore the tooth’s integrity.
  • You are experiencing tooth pain — When a worn-out filling causes tooth pain, it only impacts the tooth with the dental filling. In this case, you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • You have suffered a facial injury — If you are a victim of a facial injury from an accident or fall, it is advisable to have a dentist evaluate your fillings and teeth after treating your initial injury. While dental fillings are strong, they can become damaged from accidents like your teeth. Sometimes, they can fall out or become loose.

How to Deal With Tooth Sensitivity After Dental Filling

When you experience sensitive teeth, some activities, including eating, drinking, or brushing, could lead to acute, short-term pain in the tooth. A sensitive tooth can be due to exposed tooth roots or worn tooth enamel. However, in some cases, tooth sensitivity is due to factors like a chipped, cavity, or cracked tooth, a damaged filling, or periodontal disease.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, consult your dental practitioner. They will identify or disqualify any underlying causes of pain in your tooth. Depending on the situation, the dentist could recommend:

  • Chewing using the opposite side of the mouth
  • Flossing and brushing gently
  • Avoiding acidic beverages and foods
  • Avoiding cold or hot beverages and foods
  • Applying fluoride — Your dental practitioner could apply fluoride to the tooth area experiencing sensitivity to strengthen your tooth’s enamel and alleviate pain. They will also recommend using fluoride at home, which you will apply from a custom tray.
  • Desensitizing toothpaste — After repeated applications, desensitizing toothpaste can help hinder pain related to sensitive teeth. Various over-the-counter products are available, so consult your dentist about what suits you.
  • Surgical gum graft — If your teeth have missing gum tissue, your dentist can remove a small amount from another part of your mouth and place it in the affected area. The procedure protects uncovered tooth roots and reduces sensitivity.
  • Bonding — Sometimes, dentists treat exposed root surfaces by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces. Local anesthesia could be needed.
  • Root canal — If your sensitive tooth causes serious pain and other dental treatments are ineffective, your dental practitioner will suggest a root canal. Root canals are considered the most successful treatment option for eradicating tooth sensitivity.

How Long Should the Tooth Sensitivity Last?

The sensitivity should disappear within two to four weeks. You should consult a qualified dentist if it does not improve or last longer.

Dental Fillings Cost

It is challenging to determine the exact cost of tooth fillings due to the following factors:

  • Type of dental filling material — Silver fillings (amalgam fillings) are the least expensive, while porcelain and gold tooth fillings are the most costly. Composite resin is the most popular type but is more expensive than amalgam fillings.
  • Size of your cavities — The more severe the tooth damage or cavities in the teeth, the more costly it is to restore them. Extensive damage requiring complicated dental work is more expensive than minor damage. Sometimes, the dental filling might be insufficient to fix the tooth.
  • Number of tooth fillings — You will pay more if at least one tooth requires fillings.
  • The tooth being filled location— Front teeth are easy for dentists to access and are more affordable to treat than the back teeth.
  • The dental practice’s geographic location — You will pay more if your dentist’s office is in an area with high living costs.

Additional treatment costs, like cleaning, dental examinations, and X-rays, also increase the bill.

Out-of-network versus in-network dentist — If you have healthcare insurance coverage, visiting an in-network doctor will cost you less because they have negotiated agreements with the insurance provider.

Insurance Companies Cover Dental Fillings

Fillings are not cosmetic, and hence, many insurance companies cover them. Nevertheless, dental plans might only cover some types of fillings. For instance, an insurer can consider amalgam and composite fillings medically necessary but fail to cover porcelain or gold cavity fillings.

You should consider deductibles and copays.

Additionally, dental plans might have limitations on coverage. These limitations can include the following:

Waiting period (the duration you have to wait following your enrolment before your dental plan covers any dental work)

The dental plan may not pay for a replacement tooth filling on the same tooth surface in one year.

If you are contemplating filling your tooth, check with your insurance provider to see what they cover, the amount they will pay, and if there is a waiting period.

How to Cut Your Dental Filling Cost

 Some of the ways to reduce the cost of filling your teeth include the following:

  • Use an in-network dentist — To save on out-of-pocket expenses using health coverage, choose a healthcare provider in your dental plan’s network.
  • Consider using dental savings plans — Unlike dental insurance, a dental savings plan offers discounts and can lower your dental filling bill.
  • Inquire about payment plans — If the physician offers payment plans, paying the cost in installments can ease the financial burden of treatment. However, remember to inquire about interest rates.
  • Take advantage of flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts — They allow you to set aside pretax funds to cater to your medical bills.
  • Check whether you are eligible for Medicaid — Medicaid offers healthcare coverage to low-income earners. It also covers dental care for qualifying children.

Find a Skilled and Knowledgeable Dentist Near Me

Seasoned Beverly Hills-based dentists use dental fillings to restore teeth to their original functionality and structure, improving your smile, oral health, and general health. Your dentist can recommend restoration if your tooth has a cavity or suffers from chipping or minor fracturing. Placing dental fillings requires only one visit to Dr Joseph Goodman. Our dentists are committed to offering quality services at affordable prices. We provide services to individuals of all age brackets. We want to make you feel cared for and respected during the visit, and we can make efforts to accommodate your needs. We invite you to contact us at 310-860-9311 to book your appointment and learn how we can restore your smile and boost your confidence.