Used to strengthen and reinforce teeth which have been damaged, fillings are a common restorative dental treatment.
Tooth decay is the most common reason for needing a filling. Acid erosion from food and drink may also necessitate fillings, as can chipping and abrasion (general wear).
The three most common types of filling are made from different materials. Amalgam fillings are crafted from a blend of metals (usually silver, copper and tin). They are grey in colour, relatively inexpensive, and can last between 20 and 40 years.
Composite fillings are made from a blend of glass and resin, making them white in colour and therefore less noticeable. This is an exceedingly popular type of filling and can be expected to last between 3 and 10 years.
Finally, glass ionomer fillings are made from powdered glass which forms a robust chemical bond with the tooth. They are white in colour and more flexible than other types of filling, however they are less robust and therefore tend to be used for temporary fillings only.
Fillings are generally completed under local anaesthesia to optimise patient comfort. You may experience some discomfort following the procedure, but this should be minimal and can be treated with over the counter painkillers.
Prevention is better than cure. Maintaining good dental hygiene can help prevent the development of cavities, thus reducing your chance of needing a filling. Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss to remove plaque from between teeth, and visit a dental hygienist regularly for a professional scale and polish.