Don't wait if a tooth is bothering you! The right filling placed in a timely fashion can prevent further and more costly procedures.
A cavity is a pit in your tooth where decay has started to form, eating away your actual tooth structure. Cavities gradually dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth and protects the softer, more sensitive interior of your teeth. Most of the time, a cavity will not hurt until it has extended down into that more sensitive layer of your tooth, and by that time, you may need a more expensive restoration, such as a crown or a root canal. Left unfilled, a cavity can work its way into your tooth's interior and ultimately destroy it.
Dental Fillings FAQs
What are dental fillings procedures like?
Once the need for a filling is diagnosed, your Dental Health Associates of Madison dentist will remove the decayed area of the tooth with a small drill. The tooth is numbed so you do not feel this. The filling is a certain type of material that is placed into the prepared area of that tooth and then adjusted to restore the tooth to its proper form and function. YourDental Health Associates of Madison dentist will check for cavities at every preventive visit and can help you choose which type of restoration is right for you.
If my tooth doesn't hurt, why do I need a dental filling?
Teeth generally do not have any sensation associated with the outer (enamel) layer. If a cavity is detected while it is still small, a filling can be placed before the cavity causes you and your tooth any discomfort. If left untreated, cavities can grow larger, causing discomfort and often times the need for further treatment such as a root canal, which is much more expensive and time consuming than a filling.
What materials are used dental fillings?
The two most commonly placed fillings are composite restorations and amalgam restorations.
Composite vs. Amalgam Dental Fillings
What is a composite dental filling?
Composite fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored substance. One advantage of a composite filling is that a lot less tooth structure is generally removed when your dentist prepares the tooth than would need to be removed if your cavity were filled by a amalgam filling.
- Appearance: Tooth-colored.
- Durability: Good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid-size restorations.
- Appointment Length: Takes slightly longer to place than an amalgam filling.
- Cost: Slightly more expensive than amalgam fillings, but the additional cost may not be covered by insurance. We are happy to find out if your insurance covers the difference for you.
What is an amalgam dental filling?
Although less appealing cosmetically, amalgam fillings do have advantages. They are durable, have high resistance to wear and are cheaper than other restorative materials. Amalgam fillings are able to withstand very high chewing pressures and are therefore very useful for restoring molars in the back of the mouth where the chewing pressure is greatest.
- Appearance: Silver-colored.
- Durability: High resistance to wear meaning they are good for back teeth.
- Appointment Length: Takes slightly less time to place than a composite filling
- Cost: Less expensive than composite fillings.
Are amalgam dental fillings safe?
The major U.S. and international scientific and health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others, have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.
Can I eat or drink after my dental filling appointment?
This depends on what type of filling material you and your doctor chose to use. Composite fillings, once placed into the tooth, are cured with a special light that instantly hardens the material. After this is done, your dentist will ensure the bite is perfect before your appointment is over by using a special type of paper that shows where the filling might be too high when you bite on it. Once you leave our office the composite filling will be as hard as it will ever get, meaning you can eat and drink right after your appointment. If amalgam is used for your filling, it will need time to harden as the light will not cure the material. Because of this we typically tell patients not to eat or drink anything for at least four hours after their filling appointment if amalgam is used.
Insurance and dental fillings
To find out what percentage may be covered by your insurance plan, refer to the information provided to you when you enrolled, or call the 1-800 number on the back of your card to ask a representative. If you need help obtaining this information, a Dental Health Associates front desk staff member would be happy to help you. If you are a DHA patient, our financial coordinators will help you obtain an estimate of coverage if requested.
To schedule an appointment, please call the offices or fill out our online appointment request form.