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Tooth Filling / Cavity Filling

Dental Caries

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, cavities, or caries, is a breakdown of teeth due to activities of bacteria. The cavities may be a number of different colors from yellow to black. The cause of caries is bacterial breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth (enamel, dentin and cementum).

Fillings

To treat a cavity a dentist has to remove the decayed portion of the tooth and then "fill" the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed.

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), trauma / accident, long durations of medications, etc.

These fillings can be of few medically approved materials like :

  • • Dental Cements
  • • Silver Amalgam
  • • Dental Composites
  • • Porcelain
  • • Vitallium (White Metal)

Dental Cements

Any of various bonding or filling substances (Glass Ionomer, Zinc Oxide Eugenol, Polycarboxylate, Zinc Phosphate) that are placed in the mouth as a viscous liquid and set to a hard mass used in restorative (filling) dental procedures as luting (cementing) agents, as protective, insulating, or sedative bases, and as restorative materials.

Dental Amalgam

Silver Amalgam is made by mixing approx. equal parts of elemental liquid mercury (43% to 54%) with an alloy powder (silver, tin, zinc, and copper). Mercury is used to bind the alloy particles together into a strong, durable, and solid filling. It usually takes about 24- 48hours to completely harden up before the patient uses it to chew or bite.

Advantages of Silver Fillings:

  • Durability -- silver fillings last at least 10 to 15 years and usually outlasts composite (tooth-co lored) fillings.
  • Strength -- can withstand chewing forces
  • Expense -- may be less expensive than composite fillings

Disadvantages of Silver Fillings :

  • Poor aesthetics -- silver fillings don't match the color of natural teeth.
  • Destruction of more tooth structure -- healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling.
  • Discoloration -- amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
  • Discoloration -- amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
  • Cracks and fractures -- although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material -- in comparison with other filling materials -- may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction and lead to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures.
  • Allergic reactions -- a small percentage of people, approximately 1%, are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations.

Dental Composites

They are synthetic resin, usually acrylic based, in which a high percentage of ceramic reinforcing filler is added, such as particles of glass or silica coated with a coupling agent to bind them to the matrix.

Composite resins, or “tooth-colored fillings,” provide durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth and are completely safe.

Composite resins are types of white / tooth-colored synthetic resins which are used in dentistry as restorative material or adhesives. Since they are insoluble, aesthetic (over 30 different tooth shades), insensitive to dehydration, easy to manipulate it creates a near invisible restoration are bonded over to tooth closely matching to the color of existing teeth used to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth

Unlike amalgam fillings, there is no need for the dentist to create larger retentive features destroying healthy tooth. Here the cavity preparation is less important because a composite filling bonds to the tooth. Therefore, less healthy tooth needs to be removed for a composite restoration.

Dental composites are Light cured containing a light initiator and a catalyst which can be activated via a specific external light source, usually blue colored light (wavelength 450- 470nm) leading to complete polymerization(hardening) of composite resin.

A hand-held wand that emits primary blue light (?max=450-470nm) is used to cure the resin within a dental patient's mouth].

  • • Filling cavity preparations
  • • Filling gaps (diastemas) between teeth using a shell-like veneer or
  • • Minor reshaping of teeth
  • • Partial crowns on single teeth
  • • Filling cavities in teeth, as fillings, inlays and/or onlays
  • • Filling gaps (diastemas) between teeth using a shell-like veneer or
  • • Reshaping of teeth
  • • Full or partial crowns on single teeth
  • • Bridges spanning 2-3 teeth

Porcelain

These fillings are made most often of dental porcelain, are more resistant to staining than composite resin material but are also more abrasive. This material generally lasts more than 15 years and can cost as much as gold.

Porcelain Fillings are of 2 types -- Porcelain Inlay & Porcelain Onlay