Dental fillings are used to repair teeth that have been damaged. Often, people associate fillings with tooth decay and cavities. However, cavities aren't the only problem that can be corrected with fillings. They're also used to repair teeth that have been cracked or broken by injury, tooth grinding, or poor dental hygiene.
Traditional fillings are placed in a single office visit. Your dentist will numb the area and then use a dental drill or other tools to remove the area of decay. They’ll then clean it out to remove all bacteria. The space will then be filled with prepared filling material. It can then be filed down and shaped.
There are a few other types of fillings that might be an option in some situations. These include:
● Indirect inlay filings — An indirect fillings are created to fit the shape of the tooth being repaired. An impression of your tooth will be taken and used to create the indirect filling in a lab. They’ll be placed on a follow-up visit. They’re used in cases when there is too much damage for traditional filling but not enough damage that crown is required. An inlay indirect filling sits within the cusps of the surface of your teeth.
● Indirect onlay fillings — Indirect onlay fillings cover more space then inlay fillings. They are sometimes referred to as partial crowns.
● Temporary fillings — A temporary filling is only meant to last for a short period of time. It can be used before the placement of indirect fillings, after a root canal, or as an emergency treatment. Temporary fillings will normally fall out or break within a month or so. They can become infected if they are left in place too long.
There are several different filling materials that can be used in dental fillings. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. The cost, strength, and look of your filling will depend on what material is used.
● Silver amalgam fillings — A silver amalgam filling is a common and traditional filling type. This material has been used to fill cavities for over a decade. These filings are very strong and the least expensive type of filling. However, the combination metals used to make amalgam fillings mean these fillings don’t blend in with your tooth and will be visible.
● Gold amalgam fillings — A gold amalgam filling is very similar to a silver amalgam filling. However, since amalgam fillings are visible, some people prefer the look of gold over silver. A gold amalgam filling can be up to 10 times more expensive than a silver amalgam filling.
● Composite fillings — A composite filling is made from glass or quartz and can be made to match the color of your tooth. These fillings are a durable and good fit for small or medium-sized cavities.
● Ceramic fillings — A ceramic filling is tooth-colored and made of porcelain. These fillings are durable and less likely to stain than composite fillings. However, they are an expensive option.
● Glass ionomer fillings — A glass isomer is a mix of acrylic and glass. These fillings release fluoride that protects your teeth. However, these fillings aren’t as durable as other types.
The cost of dental fillings largely depends on the materials used. Affordable silver amalgam fillings generally cost between $50 and $150, while ceramic, gold, or glass ionomer fillings can cost from $250 to $4,500. In the middle of these options, composite fillings often cost between $90 and $250. Most dental insurance plans will cover the cost of silver amalgam fillings, and you’ll need to pay the difference in cost if you choose a more expensive type.
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