Last medically reviewed by Dr Sam Jethwa: March 31, 2021
If you are suffering from a cavity, our dentists will remove the decayed portion from the till and then fill in the gap that’s left once the decayed material has been removed.
Fillings have been helping countless of patients keep toothache and decay at bay as they are used to repair cracked and broken teeth.
Not only this, but fillings provide tooth restoration for teeth that have been worn down from conditions such as bruxism (tooth grinding).
Types of cavities:
- Coronal cavities (chewing surfaces and in between teeth): Probably the most common type of decay, this particular kind of cavity is mostly seen in both children and adults.
- Root cavities: As we get older, our gums begin to recede, which does leave our tooth roots more exposed. And unlike teeth, tooth roots do not have any enamel to protect it, which means these areas are particularly susceptible to dental decay.
- Recurrent decay: This is mostly found with existing fillings or crowns which have a build-up of plaque and tartar. Without proper treatment, this type of dental decay and can destroy your tooth and ruin the delicate nerves in the centre. Often root canals or tooth extraction are prescribed if the root tip becomes infected.
Reasons to have fillings
- Restore cavities
- Avoid potential problematic dental problems
- Fill gaps caused and left by decay
- Allow the teeth to stay healthy and function as normal
How to tell if you need a tooth filling:
Dental decay cannot always be obvious in the beginning stages, this is because it does not always present a lot of symptoms for the patient to pick up on.
This can make hygienist appointments particularly important to identify and troublesome areas and fight the problem before it grows into something so much bigger.
However, if you experience any of the below, please do get in touch with a dentist here.
- Tooth sensitivity: Do one or more of your teeth feel sensitive when exposed to hot or cold environments, temperatures or food and drinks?
- Flossing string tears: When you floss, does the string tear – especially on a particular tooth?
- The previous filling broke off: If your filling has broken, cracked or fallen out you will need to replace it.
- Chipped and fractured teeth: Does your tooth feel sharp or damaged?
- Stuck food: Do you frequently get food stuck between certain teeth?
- Dark pockets or spots: Can you see dark spots or holes in your tooth? How does your tooth feel – does it feel rough to the touch?
- Throbbing, toothache or pain: Does it hurt when you bite down on food? Or does your mouth throb? There could be many reasons for this and we would need to look into further in your appointment to understand if this is a consequence of dental decay or if you are at risk of gum disease.
We would recommend visiting a hygienist at least once every six months.
Filling types, materials and procedure steps
- Indirect: Made in a laboratory they are bonded to teeth in a single piece.
- Direct: When the dentist removed the cavity and applied a composite resin material.
There is a significant range of fillings that different dentists use – we now recommend composite or porcelain which are more modern materials that are as durable as amalgam (the silver filling) and more aesthetically pleasing.
Our expert dentists are able to complete all forms of fillings and therefore we assess on a case by case basis. Typical options include:
- Amalgam – the dark grey fillings often seen on back teeth. These are particularly common in NHS dental practices as they are cheaper, easy to complete and very durable. They consist of an amalgamation of Mercury liquid and an alloy powder that is then packed into a prepared cavity. Here at The Bespoke Smile, we do not offer amalgam fillings.
- Composite – ‘white filling’, composites are made up of very hard plastic and glass. The techniques for composite fillings are more advanced but these are significantly more secure as they involve bonding the filling to the original tooth. When the filling shape or size is unusual composite provides a soft putty-like material that provides the best results for ensuring a perfect fit. Our dentists have all completed advanced training in placing composite fillings, to ensure the best seal in the tooth, and also to guarantee optimum aesthetics and durability.
- Glass ionomer fillings – these fillings are popular in children’s dentistry as they only last approximately 5 years but will still prevent further tooth decay. These are made from tiny glass particles combined with acrylic powder and then set via chemical bonding.
- Porcelain – There are many types of porcelain available on the market and we tend to use the strongest and most aesthetic varieties. These tend to be more expensive and require more advanced dental techniques therefore not all practices offer these as an option. At Bespoke Smile, Dr Sam Jethwa has trained his own dental technicians and produced our own unique blend of super-thin, durable, and beautiful porcelain. We believe they provide amazing aesthetics and are incredibly durable meaning they are often the right answer for patients of any age who want to ensure a filling doesn’t make their smile less attractive and reduces the risk of further replacement dentistry.
- Fissure sealants – these are preventative resin fillings, which are usually placed on teeth at the back of the mouth. They seal fissures (grooves) at the back of the mouth and can prevent decay in future. They are often placed in children with a high decay rate, to protect the adult teeth.
We will numb the area with a local anaesthetic so we can fill the tooth with as minimal discomfort as possible.
Next, we will use a drill (air abrasion instrument or laser) to remove the decay.
We use dental drills which are more specialised and have adjustable speeds.
This means we can accurately and precisely remove the affected areas without damaging any healthy tooth.
The ability to use these instruments will depend on the individual training that the dentist has received.
Following this, the dentist will probe and test the area to determine whether all of the decay has been completely removed.
If so, we will prepare the space for the filling, clean the cavity removing traces of debris and bacteria.
Once the filling is in we will ensure everything is as it needs to be and give you a quick clean and polish before you go.
However, patients should bear in mind that if opting for a tooth-coloured filling, the procedure varies and more additional steps are required.
In this case, the tooth-coloured filling material will be applied in layers, after this process of multilayering, we will shape the composite resin material into the right shape.
Quick answer to common filling questions:
- What are NHS fillings made out of? Fillings on the NHS are in Band 2 and cost £65.20. The filling materials they offer are amalgam (silver coloured) and a mixture of metals (mercury, silver, tin and copper). Some NHS practices may be able to offer tooth-coloured composite fillings. See more.
- Are cosmetic procedures better? It really depends on what you want to achieve. There are cosmetic procedures like composite bonding, veneers and crowns that might be a better, more appropriate treatment. See our cosmetic treatments here.
- How long do dental fillings last? Amalgam can last 15 years, composite 7 years and glass ionomers 5 years.
- Is tooth filling good or bad? It is necessary to protect an affected tooth from reaching progressive degrees of decay. Ignoring this decay will make the cavity worse and can lead to bone loss in the future. Patients who do not want to risk tooth loss are best advised to pursue with the treatment.
- Are dental fillings painful? Pain-free with minimal discomfort. You may feel some pressure during the procedure but the area will be numbed with an anaesthetic.
- What is the best material for dental fillings? This depends again – if you want your tooth filling to blend with your existing teeth and want to make it look good for aesthetic purpose, composite may be the best option. However, it will need to replaced at a later stage in your life.
You need to act fast!
Regardless of the severity of your current issue, ignoring the problem will only mean it will get worse and the tooth will break down beyond repair.
When a tooth has been severely impacted, worn down or broken completely off for decay, we may need to look into options like tooth extraction or create an added protection with a dental crown.
What you need to know about dental decay is that dissolves your teeth and it is this that creates cavities. Patients who tend to ignore this problem experience major dental hygiene problems and even infections that may require surgery to fix.
In most common cases, dental decay can be easily and inexpensively be treated with tooth fillings, but only your dentist will be able to tell you the current stage of decay and the next best course of treatment.
Tooth filling cost
Fillings are relatively inexpensive – here at the Bespoke Smile we offer tooth coloured fillings from only £125!