Dental Services

Fillings

Fillings are a common dental treatment that fix a hole in your tooth caused by decay.

Think you might need a filling? Fillings are very common and most people will need one at some stage in their lives. It’s important to take good care of your oral health to reduce the chance of needing a filling.

If you need a filling your dentist will first remove the caries, or decay, from inside your tooth and then fill the cavity with one of a wide range of filling materials. Depending on the damage to your tooth, dentists use several types of fillings. This is usually based on the material that your dentist uses to fill the cavity left by the decay. 

What is it?

Fillings help to restore your damaged teeth to their normal shape and function.

Depending on the damage to your tooth, dentists use several types of fillings. This is usually based on the material that your dentist uses to fill the cavity left by the decay. Some of the more common filling types include composite, amalgam and gold fillings. In many cases you’ll be able to choose which filling type you prefer.

Common signs you may need a filling include:

  • Sensitivity of the tooth
  • Pressure felt within the tooth
  • Sensitivity to sugary foods
  • Toothache or pain, in or near the tooth
  • Dental floss that keeps tearing in a certain spot in your mouth
  • A hole in the tooth that you can visibly see or feel when you touch it

It’s important that you see a dentist regularly for routine check-ups because not all decay and problems that might need a filling have symptoms or pain. Most symptoms start silently in the early stages and if found early usually mean a simple, cost effective and less invasive treatment is all that’s needed. Prevention really is the key. That’s why it’s so important to visit a dentist regularly.

Fillings

What happens

Your dentist will usually numb the decayed tooth using a local anaesthetic that’s injected into your gum and the area around the tooth. After that they will check that the area is numb and use a dental drill to remove the decay. After the tooth has been prepared they will place the filling. How they do this will depend on the type of filling material used.

Which type

The type of filling that your dentist will use to fill the cavity may depend on the decay damage to your tooth. Often you may be able to choose which filling type you prefer. Common filling types include amalgam, composite, ceramic and gold fillings. Glass ionomer cement fillings are less common. You can read more about the common filling types below.

Filling types

Amalgam fillings

Dental amalgam fillings have been used to fill teeth for over 150 years. Amalgam is what we know as traditional silver fillings. They are not actually made of silver but a combination of a few metals including silver, tin, copper and mercury.

They are a low-cost filling mostly used for large cavities in back molars because of their colour. An amalgam filling will darken over time but can last many years before it needs replacing, typically between 10 and 15 years.

 

Advantages

  • Strong and durable
  • Cheapest filling type
  • Can help prevent recurrent decay

Disadvantages

  • Can’t bind teeth together which limits use
  • More extensive drilling required
  • Can contain mercury in trace amounts

Composite white fillings

Composite or synthetic white fillings are popular because of their natural appearance and strength. They typically last up to five years.

A composite filling will be matched to the colour of your teeth as closely as possible. They are almost impossible to detect and are an excellent replacement for stained, chipped or leaking fillings.


Advantages

  • Natural white appearance
  • Can bond weak teeth
  • Need less drilling preparation

Disadvantages

  • Takes longer to place
  • Sometimes leads to increased sensitivity
  • More expensive than amalgam fillings

Gold fillings

Gold fillings are very strong and durable and typically last 10 to 15 years and sometimes longer. Gold was the most popular filling material in the 1800s.

Some people prefer gold fillings because of its appearance, and it is sometimes seen as a status symbol.

Advantages

  • Don’t corrode
  • Can withstand strong chewing pressure
  • Can look nicer than amalgam

Disadvantages

  • Takes up to two visits to place
  • Conducts heat and cold so can be irritating
  • More expensive than amalgam fillings

Porcelain fillings

Porcelain or ceramic fillings are sometimes known as onlays or inlays. They have a natural appearance and are matched to your tooth colour.

They are designed for use on back molars that are under strong chewing pressure. They can last up to 20 years or more due to their strength and wear resistance.


Advantages

  • Natural white appearance
  • Most durable filling types
  • Non-toxic and metal-free

Disadvantages

  • Takes up to two visits to place
  • Most expensive filling types
  • Can cause problems with opposing teeth

Glass ionomer cement fillings

Glass ionomer is a tooth-coloured material that was originally used as a dental cement for gluing crowns onto teeth. It’s basically a flexible paste that can act as a sealant.

It’s the cheapest filling material but also the weakest. Because of this it’s mostly used as a temporary filling or as a foundation filling under composite white filling material. It’s also used on baby teeth and non-biting surfaces of teeth such as decay around the gum lines.

 

Advantages

  • Easy to apply
  • Low cost
  • Fluoride in cement provides extra protection

Disadvantages

  • Not water resistant
  • Lack strength
  • Limited uses as a filling material

Need to know

Appointments

  • Usually 2 appointments
  • At the first consultation visit your dentist will examine your teeth
  • At the second visit you will usually have the treatment

How long it takes

  • The consultation will usually take around 30 to 60 minutes
  • Getting the filling will usually take around 30 to 60 minutes

You may be asked about

  • Your dental and medical history
  • Your normal oral care routine at home

Before your appointment

  • No special preparation needed

After your appointment

  • You can usually carry on as normal

Quick tip

If your dentist gives you advice about daily dental care like teeth brushing techniques and how often you should floss, write it down. It takes time to build a new habit – some say 21 days or more. In the meantime, here’s a handy idea. Stick your note about your new dental care routine on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

Have questions?

The price of fillings depends on the material used to fill the cavity in your tooth. We recommend booking an appointment to see a dentist as soon as possible if you think you might need a filling. Your dentist will be able to work out the cost once they have examined your teeth.

You can greatly reduce your chances of needing fillings by taking good care of your oral health. That means a combination of at-home dental care and building a great relationship with your dentist.

We recommend daily healthy habits and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day
  • Book hygiene visits with an oral hygienist or oral health therapist twice each year
  • Book routine exam and x-ray check-ups with your dentist once each year

The Lumino Dental Plan is a cost-effective way to ensure your oral health is given the priority it deserves. It’s an affordable ongoing subscription plan that keeps you on top of your oral health. We know that when you look after your oral health properly with regular preventative care, you’ll be less likely to need to see a dentist in an emergency. You’re also likely to spend less money at the dentist over time.

We care about your oral health. Making sure you feel comfortable when visiting the dentist is our number one priority. With local anaesthetic most people don’t experience any pain while getting a filling. It’s normal to feel sensitivity after getting a filling. Sensitivity usually disappears after a couple of days.

Tooth decay normally shows no symptoms. Sometimes you may experience a little sensitivity or discomfort in the tooth. Only your dentist can discover if you need a filling. If you experience sensitivity or pain in your teeth you should book an appointment to see a dentist. Regular dentist visits help to discover tooth decay in its early stages, saving you money and preventing further damage to your teeth.

Less than $1 a day

Subscribe and save with the Lumino Dental Plan. Get three discounted essential treatments each year plus extra savings on other dental treatments. Visit the dentist often yet worry less when you take charge. You've only got one set of teeth. The plan helps you keep them your whole life.

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