A filling replaces part of a tooth lost because of decay or accidental damage.
Unlike amalgam (silver) fillings, white fillings stick to teeth so they can be used to repair teeth (especially front teeth) which have been chipped, broken or decayed. They can sometimes be used in back teeth if there’s not too much decay or damage.
You will probably hear the dentist talk about ‘composite’ or ‘glass ionomer’ – these are just different types of white filling.
How do we do a white filling?
- The area around the tooth will be numbed.
- Any decay will be removed.
- Some or all of an old filling might also need to be removed.
- The tooth is washed and dried by blowing water and then air onto it. You will hear this and see the dentist holding something which looks like a water pistol.
- The filling material is put into or onto the tooth and shaped.
- The filling is usually hardened by pointing a bright light at it, inside your mouth. You will see the dentist and dental nurse protecting their eyes.
- The filling is trimmed and polished.
The benefits of this treatment:
- White fillings are tooth-coloured. They come in a range of shades so they can be matched to the colour of your own teeth.
- Because white fillings are sticky they can be used to reshape and rebuild broken edges or worn teeth. They can also be used to cover marks – discolouration – if they can’t be removed by cleaning.
- A tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than a silver filling.
White fillings are not as strong as silver fillings, so they may not be suitable for large fillings in back teeth. They also need very dry conditions which can be hard to achieve right at the back of your mouth.