Dental Fillings | Dr. Chelsea Pinto | Los Angeles Dentist

What Are Dental Fillings?

A dental filling is a type of restorative dentistry treatment used to repair minimal tooth fractures, tooth decay or otherwise damaged surfaces of the teeth. When the hard surface of a tooth develops a hole on the smooth surface, at the root, or on the chewing surface of the tooth, it is called a cavity. The standard treatment for a cavity is a dental filling. Traditional dental restorative fillings include gold, porcelain and amalgam. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth.

Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay. Composite resins are usually more costly than silver amalgam fillings.

Several factors influence the durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations:

  • The components used in the dental filling material
  • The amount of tooth structure remaining
  • Where and how the tooth filling is placed
  • The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
  • The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth

The ultimate decision about what to use is best determined in consultation with your doctor. Before your treatment begins, discuss the options with Dr. Pinto at our dental clinic. To help you prepare for this discussion it is helpful to understand the two basic types of dental filling procedures: direct and indirect.

2  Types of Dental Filling Procedures

Direct fillings are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include dental amalgam, glass ionomers and composite resin fillings. Dr. Pinto prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it during one appointment.

Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. During the first visit, Dr. Pinto prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. Dr. Pinto then places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory, where the dental restoration is fabricated. At the next appointment, the restoration is cemented into the prepared cavity and adjusted as needed.


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