What are dental fillings?

A dental filling or a restoration is when there's a hole in the tooth for various reasons, such as a chipped tooth or a cavity that's grown. The tooth is cleaned and prepared, and then it is restored or filled in with a dental filling or a dental restoration. There are different types of dental fillings, dental restorations such as tooth-colored composite fillings and amalgam restorations which are silver fillings.

Can fillings be avoided?

Yes, in most cases fillings can be avoided. You can avoid having cavities or holes in your teeth and therefore not needing fillings by taking good care of your teeth, brushing twice a day, and flossing consistently. Additionally, maintaining an appropriate diet, avoiding too acidic and too sugary foods can help.

Can dentists do tooth fillings without drilling?

In unique situations, such as a chipped tooth or a tooth with a defect from birth, it doesn't need to be drilled and a tooth filling can be done. However, most of the time there has to be a little bit of cleanup on the tooth before the filling can be put in. Some offices use laser therapy instead of the traditional drill to clean the cavity. But almost always there's some sort of touching of the tooth, cleaning of the tooth that needs to be done before a filling goes in.

What are the different types of fillings in dentistry?

The most common in modern times is what's called a composite or a resin filling. So it's a tooth-colored filling, a white filling. Another common restoration or dental filling is amalgam or silver filling.

Can my dental fillings match my tooth color?

Yes. In most cases now we make fillings to match the existing tooth shade, the tooth color. Our goal is that someone cannot even tell that there's a filling there.

Does a dental filling procedure hurt?

The only discomfort you should feel when a filling is being placed at a filling appointment is to get appropriately numb. Once you're numb, you should not feel any discomfort. Sometimes you can do fillings without even needing to be numb and therefore there is very minimal or no pain.

Can I brush my teeth after getting a tooth filling?

Yes, you can brush your teeth right after having your tooth filled. Your gums may be a little sore in the area that the injection was given or if the cavity was along the edge of the gums and the gums get a little beat up, a little nicked up during the filling placement, it can be a little tender. But yes, you'd want to and should brush your teeth right after the filling is placed.

Do dental fillings need to be replaced?

Dental fillings do over time wear down and need to be replaced. If you're not cleaning the dental fillings well or you're grinding on them, they tend to break down more and do need to be replaced more frequently.

How much does a tooth filling cost?

The price of the filling depends on what part of the mouth it is, the front tooth or a back tooth, and it depends on how many surfaces the filling is. So it could range anywhere, at least at our office, anywhere from $150 to $400, excluding insurance.

When should I schedule a dental appointment if I think I might need a filling?

I would right away. If you're suspicious that there's something wrong, you may have a cavity or you feel something that's not right, sooner the better. In dentistry, problems don't go away without treatment. If they're legitimate problems, they tend to get worse. Cavities tend to be small, to start small and then get bigger over time. So you'd want to address them as soon as possible.

What are dental cavities?

Dental cavities are often just a cavity or a hole in the tooth. It is decayed, soft, demineralized tooth structure that is no longer healthy and usually needs to be removed and a filling put in its place. There are some exceptions, but it generally needs to be removed and a filling put in its place.

What causes cavities?

Cavities are caused by a lot of bacteria in the mouth. If there are bad and aggressive bacteria or if they are fed lots of sugar, the bacteria can create acid. This acid will eat away at the surface of the teeth making it soft. This soft part allows more bacteria to get in and create more acid, creating a downhill spiral where a filling is typically needed.

How does a dentist check for cavities?

Dentists use several different tools to detect cavities. The basic one is a dental explorer, which is used to look for soft areas where decay has gotten in and created soft spots on the teeth. X-rays can show areas that cannot be reached with an explorer. Other imaging options and signs such as increased hot and cold sensitivity can also indicate a cavity.

What are the stages of a cavity?

The initial stage of a cavity involves demineralization where the hard calcium and fluoride on the tooth surface starts to break down, causing a color change. As it continues to break down, it eventually develops a hole. At this point, a filling may be needed to fill in the hole.

Can a cavity spread to other teeth?

Yes, cavities can spread to other teeth. This happens when the bacteria that caused a cavity in one tooth spreads to another tooth. Research shows that if you have one cavity, the chances of you getting more cavities greatly increases.

Is it possible for cavities to go away?

Yes, cavities can go away if you improve your oral hygiene and diet. This can change the environment of your mouth and help remineralize the initial cavity. Using fluoridated toothpaste can also help rebuild the tooth surface.

How do you stop a cavity from progressing?

Taking good care of your mouth by brushing and flossing and changing your diet can help stop a cavity from progressing. Saliva production is also important. If your mouth is getting drier due to aging or certain medications, there are ways to help stimulate saliva flow.

How long do cavity fillings last?

There's not really an expiration date on a filling. A filling can last a lifetime if it's well cared for and if the dentist is skilled. However, the patient's responsibility in taking care of it at home is the most important factor in how long a filling will last.

Can dental cleanings prevent cavities?

To some extent, dental cleanings can prevent cavities. Cleanings decrease the amount of bacteria in your mouth and often involve a fluoride treatment which helps prevent cavities. Regular cleanings are important as they can also detect early signs of cavities.

What should I do if I suspect I have a cavity?

If you suspect you have a cavity, start brushing and flossing and take good care of that area. You should also get it checked out as soon as you possibly can. The sooner a cavity is found, the smaller the filling will be, and the less chance you have of needing a root canal.


Composite fillings – also known as tooth-colored fillings – are dental restorations designed to be inconspicuous and natural in appearance. They blend well with the teeth and appear more natural than amalgam fillings, which are darker and more easily seen by other people. Composite fillings are made of ceramic and plastic compounds that chemically bond to the teeth. They can be used to fill in decayed areas of the teeth, as well as to help repair chipped or broken teeth. Most dentists use composite restorations to treat the teeth closest to the front of the mouth, as they are more noticeable when patients smile. However, advancements in dental technology and the composition of composite fillings have made it possible for dentists to also use tooth-colored fillings on molars, which receive more wear than other teeth.


That composite fillings allow dentists to preserve more of the natural tooth structure? This is because composite materials chemically bond to the surface of the tooth like an adhesive. The process takes slightly longer to complete than traditional amalgam fillings, but patients can preserve more of the natural portion of the teeth while enjoying a restoration that is discreet and understated.