Tooth fillings can be metal or composite resin material that fills the cavity caused by decay. Composite fillings are the most common material for a number of reasons. Dr. Stephanie Busch-Abbate is committed to helping people improve their dental health.
The History of Tooth Fillings
Dental fillings date back further than you may think. The earliest fillings researchers have found date back about 8,500 years in a set of molars from Pakistan. Researchers also found a filling made of beeswax dating back around 6,000 years to a cave near Trieste, Italy.
People started using precious metals like gold and silver for fillings as early as 200 AD. However, it wasn’t until the mid to late 19th century that fillings became more available to the general public.
Modern tooth fillings have come a long way, especially since the mid-1800s when fillings consisted of copper, tin, mercury, silver, gold, or a combination of them (also known as amalgam fillings).
What to Do if Your Filling Falls Out
While it’s not likely, . The biggest reason for this is new decay around the filling. Maintaining good oral health is the best way to prevent your filling from falling out, but if it does, follow these steps:
- Don’t panic
- Contact our dentist for an appointment to evaluate the tooth.
- Avoid chewing on that side of your mouth
- Avoid consuming sugary and/or acidic foods and drinks
- Brush your teeth gently, especially around the exposed tooth
- If your tooth is too sensitive to brush, using mouthwash may be a good idea
- You can use dental wax (available at most pharmacies) to protect your tooth from food particles and other potential irritants by molding it around the exposed area
Differences Between Types of Fillings
blend right in with the rest of your teeth. Metal fillings may be visible depending on the location; may also discolor your teeth.
While some dentists may still use metal fillings, it’s not as common. Composite resin fillings, however, bond to your teeth to cover weak spots and provide protection.
Because amalgam fillings are metal, they tend to be great conductors, meaning they expand when exposed to heat and shrink when exposed to cold. An expanding filling can apply pressure to your tooth creating cracks and fissures, and a shrinking filling can expose those cracks as well as make it easier for bacteria to get underneath the filling.
Composite tooth fillings don’t expand or shrink. Besides composite and amalgam, porcelain fillings (also called inlays/onlays or ceramic) are an option.