Dental restoration of decay is primarily accomplished through the use of dental fillings. After the decayed portion of the tooth is removed carefully by your dentist, you get a filling in the gap to help restore your tooth back to full use. This technique is one of the oldest of modern dentistry, and while the materials and methods have evolved, the principle is the same.
Here's a deeper look into the history of dental fillings, what types are available, and what types of problems some people might experience from dental filling procedures.
History of Dental Fillings
Despite what you might think, dental fillings have a long history. Old archaeological evidence shows that the idea of filling decay in your teeth with another substance is ancient, with some tooth remains showing fillings of beeswax. The oldest evidence of filled cavities is around 8000 years old!
Metal fillings, however, started as an idea for standard dental treatment beginning in the 1700s, when dentistry itself started to become a more specialized profession. This century was also when people discovered that tooth decay was caused by acidity in the mouth (bacteria create an acidic environment which breaks down the tooth), instead of by tooth worms or other ailments.
Metal fillings were first made from pure metal types, including gold, silver, and tin. Metal amalgam fillings, which are much more durable and suitable for tooth fillings, didn't start being used until the late 1800s. The combination of several metals together made fillings much stronger.
Amalgam fillings of different types of metals continued to be standard practice for several decades. However, modern dental practice now allows for even more filling materials, including composite resin, porcelain, and glass ionomer.
Common Filling Materials
Metal amalgam and resin fillings are the most common, with resin probably being the most popular. Resin fillings match the coloring of the tooth, which preserves the beauty of the smile. Metal fillings are still one of the most long-lasting and durable options.
Porcelain is also durable, but it is not as commonly used because it is more costly. Glass ionomer fillings are also a good option for preserving the aesthetic appearance of the tooth, but they are not as durable, and they do need to be replaced more often, so glass ionomer is only suitable for small fillings and not larger restorative work. People might choose glass ionomer because it strengthens the surrounding teeth by gradually releasing fluoride to protect against decay.
Even with amazing advances in dental technology, some problems with fillings remain the same. People can still experience dental pain related to fillings. Fillings stop decay from progressing, so you should not have have any further pain from a worsening condition. Pain from the procedure should go away as your mouth heals, but lingering pain can indicate a problem.
The most common reason people might have pain after a tooth filling is because the tooth is not fully filed down. Even a tiny change in the shape or height of your tooth can cause severe pain through the jaw, simply because every time your teeth touch, there is a single point of pressure that was not there before.
This problem is easily fixed. Your dentist can adjust the height and shape of the filled area, and the tooth pain will subside.
Sometimes, large fillings get very close to the nerve in your tooth, which means you can experience tooth sensitivity for a few weeks as the nerve recovers from the stress of the dental procedure. Large fillings are difficult to constantly replace, and the loss of tooth structure can make teeth with large fillings weaker. As a result, some teeth with large fillings can remain sensitive, or they can eventually need a root canal and crown if the filling fails.
Contact a local dental office to get more info about dental fillings.