A filling is where material (such as porcelain inlay/onlay or composite) is inserted into a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its original shape and function. This can be either a dental inlay (fills centre of tooth) or onlay (more extensive than an inlay and can cover up to the entire biting surface of a tooth).
Fillings are most commonly used to prevent further damage to a tooth when decay is present. By removing the bacteria and closing the affected area off, no further tooth decay can occur.
The process of getting a tooth filling
Once your dentist has assessed your case and determined a filling is the best solution, you will be booked in for your next treatment. In general, a filling treatment can last anywhere roughly between 30 minutes to an hour to complete all the necessary dental work.
Most dentists will prepare the area with numbing spray/gel before local anaesthetic is used. This creates a more comfortable experience for patients by lessening the feeling of the local anaesthetic needle.
Once the area is completely numb, the dentist will remove any decay with a drill and seal the area with a filling. To maintain proper bite function, the dentist will check with the patient to ensure that their bite feels normal. If necessary, part of the filling will be filed down to restore the natural bite.
After the treatment, your mouth will be numb for a few hours. During this time, it is not recommended to chew on the numb side of your mouth.
Fillings are a relatively straight forward procedure. However, it is good practice to keep your dentists number on hand in case you experience any discomfort.
Types of fillings
Porcelain fillings – inlay/onlay are tooth coloured and are created to match the current aesthetics of teeth. A porcelain filling is virtually indistinguishable from other healthy teeth and can last up to 20 years.
Composite fillings are similar to porcelain fillings; however, they can last 5-10 years when applied to teeth.
Gold fillings need to be created in a lab to fit the tooth cavity and are then cemented into place. They are the most expensive type of filling and require multiple visits. Gold fillings are well received by the surrounding gum tissue and can last for more than 20 years.
Amalgam fillings were the most common, cheapest filling available. However, amalgam fillings contain mercury and are not commonly used in Australia. Moreover, this type of filling can expand and contract in heat which can cause teeth to crack. For this reason, we do not offer amalgam fillings at Coastal Dental Care. Instead, we offer to replace old amalgam fillings with healthier tooth coloured fillings.
How much does a tooth filling cost?
Tooth coloured fillings like porcelain or composite can cost anywhere between $150 to $450. Factors like extensive tooth decay and the number of fillings required can increase this amount.
As well, depending on how extensive your dental extras cover is, will determine how much of the cost you can claim back from your private health fund. For more information, please check your health funds dental extra policy.
Aftercare for tooth fillings
It is safe to eat normally almost instantly after receiving a new tooth coloured filling. Although, it is important if you have had local anaesthetic not to chew on the numb side. When your mouth is numb or partially numb, you have a greater risk of biting your tongue or lip.
Also, be careful of hot drinks as the anaesthetic reduces your ability to gauge the heat of the liquid and you might burn yourself.
If you have had a deep filling, you might continue to experience pain from the inflamed area. This should fade away within a few days as the inflammation reduces. If pain continues, please consult one of our Gold Coast dentists.
Keep in mind, a healthy diet, regular brushing and flossing and regular 6-monthly check-ups and clean can help to reduce your risk of developing tooth decay in the future.
All our Coastal Dental Care practices offer tooth coloured fillings, please contact us if you have any questions or book an appointment online here.