A filling is a material that your dentist uses to fill a cavity after he or she removes any tooth decay. To fill a tooth, your dentist will:
- Numb your teeth, gums, tongue, and surrounding skin. Your dentist will first put a substance that feels like jelly directly on the area to start the numbing process, and then inject an anesthetic to complete it. Some dentists will give you nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) to reduce your pain and help you relax.
- Sometimes use a small sheet of rubber on a metal frame (rubber dam) to target the decayed tooth and to stop liquid and tooth chips from entering your mouth and throat.
- Drill out all the decay and replace it with a filling.
Fillings can be made from many types of material. Talk to your dentist about which type would be best for you.
- Amalgam is the easiest material for a dentist to use. It is the fastest and least costly choice. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, or other metals.
- Composite resins are tooth-colored fillings. Composite resin is easier than gold for a dentist to work with and usually is less expensive than gold.
- Ionomers are tooth-colored materials that dentists often use for small cavities or cavities between teeth. Some ionomers release small amounts of fluoride, which may help you if you often get cavities.
- Gold is costly and is harder for your dentist to work with. This makes the procedure take longer and cost more.
- Ceramics are costly tooth-colored fillings. They require special equipment and may require dental lab support. You may need several appointments.