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Dental fillings

Got a cavity? Get a filling. Dental fillings are the first line of defense against tooth decay.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: June 26, 2012

Dental fillings, also sometimes called dental restorations, are a first-line defense and treatment of cavities and tooth decay. They can be created and implanted within a single visit. For this reason they are sometimes called direct fillings. Fillings are placed entirely inside the decayed tooth.

Fillings can be made of gold, silver amalgam, composite resin, ceramic or acrylic. In this article, we'll assume we're talking about direct, not indirect, filings.

What It's Good For

Dental fillings are used to repair and hold together decayed teeth and teeth with cavities. They are typically useful on teeth with a relatively minor amount of decay or enamel loss. Your dentist will make this determination.

Who it works for: The ideal candidate for dental fillings has a tooth or teeth with relatively minor tooth decay or enamel loss.

Recommended age range: Dental fillings can be performed on people of any age, even on children who have not yet had their permanent teeth come in. While baby teeth will fall out at some point, allowing a decayed tooth to go unfilled runs the risk of spreading decay and gum disease in the mouth.

When will I see results?: Results are immediate.

How long it lasts: Fillings can last for up to 20 years. Resin fillings usually last only 10 to 15 years. Acrylic fillings are meant to be used on baby teeth and last for up to five years.

Key benefits of dental fillings: If you've got a cavity, a filling is the fastest and least expensive way to resolve the issue. Fillings can be applied during the same visit as the dental exam (unlike inlays, outlays and crowns, which must be created in dental lab and require another trip to the dentist's chair.)

Licensed uses: Fillings are used to restore decayed teeth to full functionality.

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