What are Dental Fillings?


Happy Asian Family-Composite FillingsA traditional dental restorative, more commonly known as a filling, is a type of treatment that is used to remedy:


  • Tooth decay
  • Enamel loss due to tooth decay that causes tooth sensitivity
  • Minimal tooth fractures
  • Damaged surfaces of the teeth
  • Uneven tooth surfaces to improve biting and chewing


What are the Fillings Made of?


Fillings can be made from several materials that may include:


  • Gold
  • Porcelain
  • Composite
  • Composite resins (like ceramic and plastic)


There are two different kinds of fillings you can receive.


  • Indirect: Include inlays and veneers that are fabricated with ceramics or composites; they require two or more visits
  • Direct: Fillings that are placed into a prepared cavity during a single visit




Usually during a scheduled cleaning your dentist will examine your teeth. It is during this time that tooth decay is discovered. X-rays may be taken to determine the extent and precise location of the cavity and tooth (or teeth) decay.


Next, your dentist will discuss what options you have that will best prevent further decay and damage to the tooth. Several factors will influence which filling option is best for you. They include:


  • Location of the cavity
  • Aesthetic needs
  • Medical history
  • Biting force
  • Durability
  • Personal preference
  • Number of visits needed
  • Cost


Based on what you and your dentist decide, you may be able to receive your filling immediately in the office. Otherwise, you will return for a scheduled appointment.


Your dentist will prepare the area(s) for treatment by using local anesthesia to numb the area surrounding the affected tooth. For some patients, the option of sedation may be used to ensure you are more comfortable. However, receiving sedation means that you will need someone to take you to your procedure because you will not be able to drive afterwards.


The Procedure:


After the area has been numbed, the dentist will begin preparing the tooth and surrounding areas in order to restore the damaged areas. The dentist will remove the decay or damage with a dental hand-piece or laser. Next, the area is cleansed to remove any bacteria or debris.


If you are receiving a composite filling, the dentist will isolate the affected tooth in order to prevent moisture from interfering with the bonding process. Once isolated, the bonding process may begin. Various adhesives will be placed followed by the composite material, which is then hardened with a special bonding light. Once the composite has been hardened, the complete restoration is both functional and natural looking.

Call us at (301) 236-9000 to schedule an appointment!




One of the most important things you will discuss with your dentist are the steps you can take to prevent the need for more fillings and maintaining a healthy mouth.


It is important to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing with dental floss or an interdental cleaner at least once a day.


Continuing to schedule and go to your routine check-ups and teeth cleanings is also important.


If you are more at risk for cavities, sealants might be a good option for you. Sealants can be placed over your molars to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Using a fluoride mouth rinse is an additional preventative measure that can be taken.


Another overlooked factor in preventing cavities and maintaining oral health is diet and nutrition. By limiting your intake of sugary drinks (like soda) and food (candy), and between-meal snacks, you can help keep your mouth healthy.


How Long do Fillings Last?


Oral health and your oral hygiene routines may affect the overall life of a filling. Most amalgam fillings last about 12 years while composite fillings last five to seven years.


What if My Teeth Require Additional or Alternative Procedures?


Some teeth may require more work before a filling can take place, or may require something more than a filling. These options include:


  • Root Canals: Infected, abscessed or nerve damaged teeth may require a root canal. Sometimes a round of antibiotic treatment is also used.
  • Dental Crowns: Teeth that require more support may require a dental crown as they offer more support than a regular filling.
  • Dental Implants or Bridges: Irreparable tooth damage that requires tooth extraction and an implant or bridge to fill the gap.


How Much do Fillings Cost?


The cost of dental fillings is dependent on several factors, such as:


  • Insurance coverage: Insurance does not usually cover any additional costs incurred with composite fillings
  • The number of fillings needed
  • The location of the cavity
  • The material used to make the filling
  • How many visits are required


Call us at (301) 236-9000 to schedule an appointment!