Filling Cavities

Dr. Laura Tam
Authored By:
Dr. Laura Tam

There are two basic materials that can be used to fill cavities in the back teeth, silver amalgam and composite resin. For decades, silver amalgam has been used successfully because of its durability, ease of use and affordability. However, the use of composite resin is steadily increasing. The main benefit of choosing composite resin over silver amalgam is its colour. The resin colour closely matches that of a natural tooth, making this option much more aesthetically pleasing.

There are several steps involved in the application of a posterior composite filling. This video will outline the steps involved, informing you of what to expect during and after your procedure.

Before the procedure begins your dentist may numb your tooth and apply a rubber dam. The rubber dam will isolate the teeth that the dentist will be working on, and will protect you, the patient, from water spray or the accidental ingestion of any materialsĀ  The dentist will then begin to remove any tooth decay, as well as any existing fillings, using a drill and other instruments. The tooth is ready to be filled after all the decay and weakened tooth structure has been removed.

The dentist may use specific materials to act as a temporary frame while the filling material is being inserted. These are secured in place with rings and wedges to ensure that the shape of your filling will be anatomically correct.

In order to create a tight bond between the filling and the tooth, a series of materials will be applied onto the surface of the cavity, before filling the tooth. The materials used are an etchant, a primer and an adhesive. These materials are applied in very thin layers and are washed and dried before the filling material is applied.

The composite resin is applied in layers and hardened using a specific wavelength of light after each application. The dentist may remove and reapply the framing material around the tooth in order to fill other sections of the tooth in a similar manner. Once the tooth has been completely filled, the filling is shaped and polished. The rubber dam is removed and your dentist will inspect the filling, verifying that the anatomy is correct, permitting you to bite normally. Final adjustments, if necessary, are made at this time.

If you are numb following the procedure, you should take care to avoid accidentally biting your lips or cheeks. You should also avoid very hot liquids, until normal sensation returns. The filling will be completely set as soon as the dentist is finished, therefore, you do not have to avoid hard foods or wait for further hardening of the filling material. The tooth may feel sensitive for a few days or even a few weeks after the procedure. This sensitivity normally subsides on its own.

When a composite resin filling is properly created and well maintained it can provide the patient with a strong, long lasting and aesthetically pleasing restoration.