What is a dental filling?
A dental restoration or dental filling is a treatment to restore the function, integrity and morphology (shape) of missing tooth structure. the tooth structure maybe missing due to the effects of dental decay or an external force.
Why is tooth decay a worry?
Tooth decay is the destruction and decomposition of tooth as a result of bacterial attack. The bacteria in our mouths produce a lot of acid when they come in contact with the sugars in our food.
This destruction and decomposition will continue when it becomes established. The decomposed tooth contains large number of bacteria, which will continue to produce acid causing more tooth destruction. At this point, changing your diet or clean teeth better won’t be effective to stop more tooth decay.
Eventually, the bacteria in tooth decay will overwhelm the pulp tissue in the centre of the tooth. This is when a toothache develops, which you will feel as a dull continuous ache. Death of the pulp tissue and infection of the tissue surrounding the tooth are common consequences. Also remember, excessive decomposition of the tooth will make it impossible for a dentist to treat it.
How is a tooth treated when it is decayed?
Firstly, the decomposed and infected part of the tooth needs to be removed. These days, this is almost always done when the tooth is numbed (so, you shouldn’t worry about the process being painful). Then the hole (cavity) in the tooth is filled with a suitable material. The material is placed in a way that it will create a seal against more bacteria leaking into the cavity. This will prevent more tooth decay develop.
You have to remember that (at present) there are no material which can create a perfect seal. So, no matter how well a filling is done or what material is used, unfortunately, the filling will need to be replaced, at some point. However, when the treatment is done well and when a patient looks after it, the process of failure can take a very long time. Here at my practice, a large number of treated teeth are still doing well after 20 years of service.
Suitable material? What do you mean?
Dental filling materials can be made of Dental Amalgams (silver fillings), Composite (resin) fillings, which are better known as white fillings. They can also be made of Ceramic or Gold.
All of these have advantages and disadvantages in different circumstances. I would recommend a material only when different factors (including your requirement) are taken into account.
How do I know when a filling is done well?
Admittedly, this is very difficult to know from a patient’s perspective. Never be afraid to ask questions. I will be very happy to give easy to understand explanations to your questions.
Different materials require different techniques. Meticulously, following these techniques always helps to produce predictable result. In dentistry, like most other things, when time is taken to produce a good result, the result tends to work out well.
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