Ideally, regular check-ups combined with good oral hygiene at home should mean that fillings are unnecessary: unfortunately, patients can still experience pain and discomfort caused by tooth decay. If left untreated, decay can eventually lead to an abscess forming, which would need root canal treatment to resolve. Having a filling is a simple, painless procedure that will successfully treat decay in most cases and restore your tooth to full health.
What Are White Fillings?
Fillings are available on the NHS, usually made of an amalgam of metals, which are perfectly safe although some patients prefer to opt for white fillings, which are closer in colour to their natural teeth. White fillings can be provided on the NHS if your dentist considers that this is clinically necessary; this is rarely the case, though, and in the majority of cases white fillings are used as a cosmetic measure, for which you can opt to pay privately.
White fillings are more natural in appearance and consist of a composite resin: this is a tooth-coloured plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) and has been used since the 1960s. Although originally used only for those teeth visible when you smile, the modern resin used today is strong enough to be used anywhere in the mouth.
How Do White Fillings Work?
Composite resins are now far more advanced than they once were, making them a viable, long-lasting alternative to traditional amalgam (metallic) fillings. If you need a filling, your dentist will firstly gently and carefully numb the affected area using a fine syringe to deliver a fast-acting, effective local anaesthetic. Many patients are afraid of having an injection and our dentists understand this and will take great care to make this procedure as comfortable as possible and will allow plenty of time within the appointment for the local anaesthetic to take full effect.
Your dentist will then use a fine drill to get rid of any decay within the tooth, and a rounded drill to smooth away any rough edges. This second drill can make a lot of noise inside your head but is painless thanks to the effectiveness of the local anaesthetic.
Once your tooth is prepared, your dentist will apply the white filling, which will bond to your tooth enamel. It is not simply ‘plugged in’ as it would have been several years ago: the bonding ensures that the resin will remain firmly in place.
Will White Fillings Work For Me?
If you are suffering from tooth decay and your dentist has advised that you have a filling, you can ask for a white filling to be used instead of a metallic amalgam. You may decide to do this especially if your filling will be visible when you smile or laugh and you feel you will be self-conscious with an amalgam in place.
If your tooth is particularly badly damaged through decay or injury, it might be appropriate for you to be given an inlay or onlay instead of a filling. This is a restoration that will replace half a missing tooth and is most commonly used when a cavity is too large to be treated with a filling but does not quite warrant a crown. These can be made whilst you wait thanks to our Cad/Cam Cerec technology in place at our modern offices. They are long-lasting and look entirely natural.
How Long Do White Fillings Take?
A typical appointment for a filling will take no longer than half an hour, including time for you to be examined and numbed with local anaesthetic. Tooth decay is often spotted during routine check-ups, and if your dentist decides that a filling is necessary it might be possible to carry out this work during the same appointment if there is time, or you may need to arrange a further appointment.
To arrange a routine check-up, please call us at any time and if our offices are closed we will return your call as soon as possible. If you are in pain or discomfort, please ring and we will arrange an appointment for you at the earliest opportunity. To enquire about a white filling please ask when you ring or you can discuss this with your dentist at your appointment.