A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings). By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended.
What Happens When You get a Filling?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with any of the variety of materials described above.
How Do I Know if I Need a Filling?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.
Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.