Dental Fillings: What They Are and Why You Might Need Them

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In the past, restorative dentists created dental fillings using a mixture of metals, including elemental mercury. Today, however, dental fillings (also called tooth fillings) contain healthier, more biocompatible materials, such as composite resin. But, if you don’t know what tooth fillings are, then you may not know why you might need them.

At Lakewood Dental Group, we believe that patient education is integral to comprehensive treatment. That’s why Dr. Mihir Patel and Dr. Shaun Sigurdson want to make sure that all of your questions are answered. If you need to ask our team a dental query, then call our Dallas, TX, dental office at (214) 827-1885, or send us a message here.

In this post, our team discusses what dental fillings are and why you might need them. You might be surprised to learn how versatile these restorative treatments can be!

What are dental fillings?

Dental fillings are a strong material (like metal or resin) that a qualified Dallas dentist can use to plug small holes or grooves in the teeth. Typically, these holes or grooves are the result of:

  • Over brushing
  • Thinning enamel
  • Chips or minor fractures
  • Dental decay (cavities)

A dental filling works by reinforcing areas of weakness in the tooth. In effect, the fillings act as a stopper, which prevents dental damage and decay from spreading or worsening.

How long have tooth fillings been around?

Tooth fillings are not a modern invention. In fact, dental fillings have been around for millennia. The oldest tooth filling ever recorded was discovered in a cave in what is now modern-day Slovenia. The tooth appeared broken and mended almost 6,500 years ago.

Shockingly, the owner of the tooth seemed to have repaired the damage using beeswax. The biocompatible beeswax filled in tiny fractures, which prevented bacteria from entering the tooth and causing an infection.

Throughout history, civilizations have been using some form of restorative substance to repair damaged teeth. But, the natural progression of technology led the pioneers of modern dentistry to use other, stronger materials, like metal.

But, certain metals react adversely with the human body, while others are considered heavy metals and neurotoxic. Indeed, the 1960s ushered in a new era of restorative dentistry with composite resin dental fillings.

This tooth-colored material gained immediate popularity among dentists and patients alike. Dentists enjoyed restoring their patients’ teeth with an ultra-strong material that was safer and more biocompatible metal. Patients, however, mostly appreciated how seamlessly they could repair their smiles with pearly-white fillings. 

Today, patients can enjoy all the benefits of tried-and-true composite resin fillings, such as:

  • Strength
  • Longevity
  • Aesthetics
  • Health

But, more than that, patients who visit our Lakewood dental center can also experience the contemporary techniques and cutting-edge technology that make our treatments so successful. This means that tooth fillings with our Dallas dentists are less invasive, more comfortable, and longer lasting compared to our competitors.

Why do I need dental fillings?

There are a few reasons why patients may need a dental filling, such as:

  • Cavities
  • Pits or grooves caused by over brushing or dental damage 
  • Weak or thinning tooth enamel
  • Minor cracks, fractures, or chips

Oftentimes, our Lakewood dentists recommend dental fillings as a preventive treatment. This is because pits or grooves in the teeth may not be subject to dental decay yet, but leaving them untreated could result in painful cavities and infections. So, many patients receive tooth fillings even if they don’t have cavities or any accompanying pain yet.

You might be wondering: Well, if I don’t have a cavity or feel any dental pain yet, then do I really need a dental filling? The simple answer is: yes. Failure to fill in areas of weakness could result in root canal infections that may require emergency dental care, such as root canal therapy or a total tooth extraction.

So, if a Dallas dentist has recently told you that you need a tooth filling, then don’t delay–schedule an appointment immediately. Otherwise, you may risk losing your natural teeth permanently. 

Are there other reasons to get tooth fillings?

Typically, dental professionals consider tooth fillings as a predominantly restorative treatment. However, composite resin fillings have other applications, especially in cosmetic dentistry.

Tooth-colored composite resin fillings are perfect for covering some smile irregularities, such as:

Ordinarily, dentists distinguish between restorative fillings and cosmetic fillings by referring to cosmetic fillings as dental bonding. So, while our team may suggest dental bonding to improve a patient’s smile, it is the same material and process our team uses to fill cavities.

What is the dental filling process like?

Whether you want cosmetic dental bonding or you need a restorative tooth filling, the process is largely the same. The process begins with our Lakewood team conducting a thorough exam of your mouth. This will help our team strategize your treatment for optimal results.

Once we create a treatment plan that suits your needs, then we will begin, but not before ensuring your ultimate comfort. If we need to remove infected dental material or shave a small amount of tooth enamel, then we may use numbing agents or local anesthesia. This will prevent any pain and discomfort during the procedure.

After we administer numbing agents, we prepare the tooth by cleaning it up and removing a tiny bit of enamel. This allows the composite resin material to adhere better to the surface of teeth. Next, our Dallas dental team carefully applies the material and shapes it into place. 

Lastly, we use a special LED lamp to cure (or set)  the material in place. In just a single office visit, patients can repair dental damage, improve their oral health, and enhance their smiles with dental fillings.

Need dental fillings? Call our Dallas dentists today!

Don’t wait until dental damage leads to devastating infections or tooth loss. Schedule your appointment at Lakewood Dental Group today. Patients can reach our dental clinic in Dallas by sending us a message here or by calling (214) 827-1885.