Fillings

Fillings are often referred to as dental restorations. If you have had a recent deep filling, you may be experiencing toothache or tooth sensitivity. Constant toothache is not a good sign so see a dentist immediately as you may need to have root canal therapy or a tooth extraction. If the pain is on and off for a few seconds, it would be wise to monitor the tooth pain pattern and if it becomes worse then go and see a dentist.

Advice: If you experience a constant pain, the tooth pain is only going to get worse so book to see a dentist quickly.

If you have had a recent filling and it has felt too high since you left the dentist, it would be wise to see the dentist to have it reviewed and adjusted if necessary. Sometimes dentists place dental crowns high because the bite tends to settle down within a few weeks, however in other cases a restoration that is too high can lead to jaw pain and tenderness.

Fillings FAQs

What are tooth fillings?

Fillings are placed when tooth decay has infected a tooth. The decay must be cleaned out thoroughly. A filling is used to replace the decayed parts of the tooth that are now missing.

Why are dental fillings needed?

Dental fillings strengthen the structure of the tooth once the soft decay has been removed. Tooth decay is soft and weakens the tooth structure.

What are the different types of dental fillings for teeth?

You can have a range of dental fillings.

  • Metal Fillings – These are slightly more old fashioned and are made of a metal (mercury) alloy known as amalgam. They can be used to restore teeth where deep decay has been removed. The metal relies on the tooth structure to keep them in place. Since they are metal they have a grey-silver colour and are not aesthetically pleasing.
  • Tooth Coloured Fillings – Dental composite is a resin material that is bonded to the tooth and can produce a good aesthetic result.
  • Glass Cement Fillings – These are tooth coloured but do not produce optimum aesthetics. They can be used sometimes as temporary fillings for teeth.
  • Gold Fillings– Gold has been used to restore teeth in the past and is still used in some cases today as the strength properties of gold are very similar to that of natural enamel.
  • Porcelain Fillings– This material produces a good cosmetic result but can be an expensive option as often the porcelain filling needs to be constructed by a laboratory.
  • Temporary Fillings – these may be placed between appointments or if the dentist does not have enough time to complete the treatment required.

Can I replace my amalgam fillings with composite fillings?

You are able to replace the silver amalgam fillings with dental composite which is tooth coloured. This has become a much more popular treatment option over the last 10-15 years as cosmetic dentistry has progressed. If you are deciding to have your fillings changed it is a good idea to research the dentist that you choose to ensure that they have the correct skills to place the composites successfully.

There are cases now where porcelain inlays and single-visit CAD CAM restorations can be used to replace old amalgam fillings. Excellent aesthetic results can be achieved with these restorations.

What is the average cost of dental fillings?

Depending on the material of choice the price can vary significantly.

Why do my fillings hurt?

After you have had a filling placed some tooth pain may be experienced.

The filling may have been deep and close to the pulp chamber that houses the nerve of the tooth. If this is the case you should return to the dentist. Deep fillings can be lined with a glass like material to protect the nerve. The filling is then placed on top of this glass layer.

Sometimes the dentist may warn you that the filling was deep and potentially further treatment for the tooth may be required in the future even if a layer has been put over the nerve to protect it.

Sometimes there may be some bacteria left in the tooth after the dentist has placed the filling that can lead to pain. You should always return to the dentist if a recently placed filling is hurting as this may be the case. The dentist will need to replace the filling after the additional bacteria has been removed.

Old fillings may also leak which allows bacteria inside the tooth through the margins of the filling. You may see a dark line develop around the filling if this is the case.

You should see your dentist regularly so that they can assess your fillings to make sure that none are leaking. Leaking fillings frequently cause tooth pain.

Is it normal to have sensitivity after a tooth coloured filling?

There may be some sensitivity as dentist’s use a weak acid before bonding the composite. This weak acid improves the strength of the bond but can lead to some sensitivity. The layers of the composite should be set whilst they are thin and if too much of the composite has been set at once the bottom of the layer may remain soft, which also leads to sensitivity.

You should return to your dentist if you are suffering any symptoms from your fillings.