The white filling is the bread and butter of modern dentistry.
Why would I need a White Filling?
There are many reasons teeth can benefit from a white filling. These include:
fixing a decay (hole) in a front or back tooth
improving the colour of a front or back tooth
improving the shape of a front or back tooth AKA 'resin veneer' / 'bonding'
improving the biting surfaces of front or back teeth
protecting exposed root surfaces of teeth that have been damaged due to acids
replacing an old silver filling (amalgam filling) that has created cracks in your tooth
replacing an old silver filling (amalgam filling) or white fillings that have broken or gotten decay underneath it
If you would like to see the process of how a dental white filling in placed in a tooth, please watch the video below.
Dr Carla demonstrates the procedure of a white filling on a patient
What are White FIllings Made of?
A white filling, known as composite resin or composite resin fillings, are synthetic materials that combine tiny filler particles of glass, mineral, or resin in a mouldable matrix. There are coupling agents that join the fibres together when blue light is applied. This means the resin material can go in to the cavity surface and adapt into all the nooks and crannies. Once the blue light is applied, the resin sets hard and is safe to chew on. Ok that was a mouthful, but what basically does that mean? Well when you read on further about amalgam fillings or silver fillings, you will know one of the drawbacks with the older style fillings, was their incompleteness when it came to bonding to the tooth. The white filling or composite filling, overcomes this and bonds solidly and in every part to the tooth to ensure they are no tiny gaps.
in white fillings, or composite fillings, the type of filler particles, the percentage of filler in the matrix, and the size of the filler all determine the physical properties of the resin, and which resin is best applied in different parts of the mouth.
What is super important is the attachment of the dental filling to the tooth, this is known as the 'bond'. Having a strong bond means less likelihood of sensitivity, less chance the filling will get decay under it again, and a. stronger filling. At Dentista we strive to follow 'Biomimetic' protocols. This means we use the gold standard materials and techniques and take the time and care necessary to create a strong bond of the dental filling to your tooth. Not all dental fillings are created equal!
Dental filling - the dentist uses a mirror to drill the hole and remove the cavity
How much are fillings?
At Dentista dental, we tell you the cost of treatments and will break the filling price down to its different cost codes.
The costs of fillings depend on a few factors - is the tooth a front front or back tooth (anterior/posterior).
How many surfaces does the filling need to cover.
What material will be used for the filling (more on this later)
Are there any other additions required. For example adding pins, posts, edges or cusps to the tooth. For an accurate estimate of the cost we recommend an in person consultation.
As at 2023, a filling cost at Dentista is:
Dental Filling price front tooth white fillings: dental item number code 521 starting from $155
Dental Filling price Back tooth white fillings: dental item number code 531 starting from $165
If you have dental cover with your private health insurance, they will cover a certain amount. To know exactly what your private health insurance will cover we can provide you with a quote in the surgery via the HICAPS machine, or we can provide you with a detailed estimate you can check with your insurer. See our page here for more info.
Types of Fillings
There are different types of fillings available when you need to get your tooth filled. As described earlier, the main tooth filling material that is used in modern dentistry is the white filling, or composite resin. The white filling is also the filling that we will suggest most of the time.
There are however other alternatives that patients can choose from. These include gold fillings, ceramic fillings such as the material porcelain and silver amalgam. We will briefly look into these alternatives and why you might have or want them.
Some of our white filling examples at Dentista - a white filling can be beautiful!
Cerec Ceramic Fillings
Up until the advent of cerec dentistry, a large filling needed on a tooth would have to result in a patient receiving a full crown. A large filling, that could not be treated by filling the tooth with a plastic substance, due to it being so large, meant that a crown had to be cut.
If you are not aware, a dental crown requires a lot of your natural tooth to be shaved down so that the dental crown or tooth cap can be placed on top. Alot of this tooth had nothing wrong with it... so given that having your own tooth is usually better than something man made, it wasn't the best way to treat was is essentially just a big hole in your tooth.
White fillings are excellent for small and medium sized cavities (holes) and for the most part are the backbone of modern dentistry, but they are not always the most effective tool when we are talking about a very large filling. We are, after all, with dental white fillings, talking about filling a tooth with plastic, and so with this they have their limitations.
If you have a very LARGE WHITE FILLING, (bigger than half your tooth) then then your dental filling will experience a large amount of bending. There can also be problems with staining, breaking of the filling, and NEW DECAY getting in under the white filling (where it bends at the seam where it meets the tooth). Remember that anywhere, where there are bends or joints, that aren't bonded extremely well (bond is the term used to describe something being places on or in a tooth) , leave an opening to decay.
As mentioned earlier, a full crown requires all surfaces of the tooth to be shaved down, and thus also means that alot of healthy tooth is removed, somewhat unnecessarily.
The cerec provides us with an opportunity to do CERAMIC FILLINGS. This means you have a restoration that is much stronger than the white fillings, which as explained is plastic. The ceramic filling uses superior and stronger materials like ceramic porcelain. Being a superior material and custom fitted exactly into the tooth it also lasts much longer. Finally as mentioned before, using a ceramic filling for a large cavity will not unnecessarily remove any healthy part of the tooth like a crown would.
You may be wondering why is it that ceramic fillings are not offered by dentists normally? Well when the cerec machine is not used for ceramic fillings, we require you to have 2 appointments. This is because the first appointment, a dentist would need to put in a temporary filling whilst the laboratory makes up the ceramic filling. Well they were and still are offered to patients, however they are generally a pain to both the dentist and the patient. The temporary filling will often fall off which obviously is a major problem. As a result of this trait, most dentists that don't use the new cerec technology are reluctant to offer ceramic fillings as they more often than not result in a fallen out temporary.
The cerec eliminates this need for a temporary, which in turn means less visits to the clinic and in turn less chance for things to go wrong. Whilst the cost of a ceramic filling is more then a white filling, you are getting a better quality restoration.
Again we must stress that when the cavity or hole is small... a white filling is a very good option. It is only when the hole gets very large, to the tune of about half the tooth that a ceramic filling using the cerec is a good option for you.
To find out more about the exciting new world of cerec dentistry, please see our page on same day crowns.
The cerec machine makes porcelain fillings viable for large cavities
Tooth Filling Before and After
Below you will see some images of a tooth filling before and after. Although you might not be able to see the decay in the before picture, we can pick it up very easy on an interoral x ray. The after image then shows how your tooth will look when we remove the decay. As you can see, it's very neat and precise.
tooth filling before and after
the next image below also shows a tooth filling before and after except that in this case, we also show you the finished product with the white filling or composite resin being placed into the tooth. Thus we fill up with hole ensuring that the structure is sound, and that no bacteria will be able to get into the tooth and cause anymore decay.
tooth filling before and after - this time we add in the white filling / composite resin
A gold filling is usually a choice these days based on a certain aesthetic look that a patient wants. A gold filling does have other advantages that are unique to the metal gold. It is very durable and gold will not corrode. The cost of gold itself must be added to the price when getting a gold filling so please keep this in mind.