To treat a cavity, the decayed portion of the tooth is removed and replaced or “filled” to restore the size and shape of the natural tooth. Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse (such as from nail-biting or tooth grinding)

What types of filling materials are available?

Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, or glass materials called composite resin fillings. The location and extent of the decay, cost of filling material, patients’ insurance coverage, and your dentist’s recommendation assist in determining the type of filling that will best address your needs.

How should I care for my teeth with fillings?

To maintain your fillings, you should follow good oral hygiene practices, visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings, brushing with fluoride-containing toothpaste, and flossing at least once daily. If your dentist suspects that a filling might be cracked or is “leaking” (when the sides of the filling don’t fit tightly against the tooth, this allows debris and saliva to seep down between the filling and the tooth, which can lead to decay), digital x-rays will help assess the situation. If your tooth is extremely sensitive, has a sharp edge, a crack in the filling, or if a piece of the filling is missing, call your dentist for an appointment.

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