What are they?
A filling replaces part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay or accidental damage.
Unlike silver (amalgam) fillings, white fillings stick to teeth so they can be used to repair teeth (especially front teeth) that have been chipped, broken or decayed. They can sometimes be used in back teeth if there is not too much decay or damage.
You will probably hear the dentist talk about ‘composite’ or ‘glass lonomer’ – these are just different types of white filling.
What will my dentist do?
- normally give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area;
- remove any decay;
- remove some or all of an old filling;
- wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air onto it (the dentist will be holding something which looks like a water pistol);
- put the filling material into or onto the tooth and shape it
- harden the filling by pointing a bright light at it, inside your mouth (you will see the dentist and dental nurse protecting their eyes); and
- trim and polish the filling.
What are the benefits?
- White fillings are the same colour as teeth. They come in a range of shades so they can be matched to the colour of your own teeth.
- White fillings are sticky so they can be used to reshape and rebuild broken edges or worn teeth. They can also be used to cover marks if they can’t be removed by cleaning.
- A tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than a silver filling.
White fillings are not as strong as silver fillings so may not be suitable for large fillings in back teeth. They also need to be placed in very dry conditions, which can be hard to achieve right at the back of your mouth.