Brisbane Dental Fillings Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Composite, Porcelain and Gold Fillings

Thinking about a replacement tooth filling or need a dental filling in Brisbane? Find out everything you need to know below!

What Are Dental Fillings?

A dental filling or tooth filling is a dental restorative process used to restore the function, integrity and material of missing tooth structure.

This structural loss typically results from small tooth fractures, wear and tear, decay or a damaged surface.

How Does It Work?

Tooth fillings work by using a specifically designed material that sets hard on placement.

Why Do I Need a Dental Filling?

There are many reasons why you may need a dental filling but normally dental fillings are needed when you have a cavity that may be causing:

  • Tooth decay

  • Sensitivity

  • Tooth pain

  • Gum issues

  • Enamel loss

Tooth fillings are a quick and effective procedure for stopping further tooth decay.

We recommend getting a filling as soon as possible to prevent further problems which may require more expensive and time-intensive treatments such as root canals and dental crowns.

Another reason you may need a dental filling could be due to general wear and tear of your teeth over time. This can be caused by grinding during sleep, chewing on destructive materials or misaligned teeth.

Fractures and injuries may also require a dental filling to prevent further tooth loss or to strengthen the tooth or enamel.

Dental Filling Material

Your dentist will select the right type of material depending on the placement of the filling. Normally different materials will be used for front tooth fillings compared to the back teeth.

Historically gold was the main material type but is no longer used due to expense and specialised training requirements.

There are three main types of filling material used which are outlined below:

Composite Filling:

Composite filling, also known as “white filling”, is a type of material used in tooth fillings. It is generally used over other types of material in modern dentistry due to its ability to maintain the natural colour of the tooth and requires less time to install.

Materials can vary widely, with proprietary mixes of resins forming the matrix, as well as engineered filler glasses and glass ceramics. The filler gives the composite wear resistance and translucency. A coupling agent is then used to strengthen the connection between the filling and the tooth.

After installation, energy (light or heat) is applied to finish the bonding of the resin, composite filling and the tooth.

Porcelain Filling

Porcelain fillings are generally called inlays or onlays and are custom produced in a lab according to your specific requirements. They are easily matched to the colour of the tooth and resist staining.

A porcelain filling is used when a patient requires a larger filling and/or needs external areas of the tooth covered.

Temporary Tooth Filling

A temporary filling is a filling used when you’ve just had a root canal or your dentist is waiting for a porcelain filling, crown, bridge or dental implant to be made.

They can also be placed in case of emergencies to prevent bone loss after an accident while you wait for other treatments to be completed.

It’s important to note that temporary fillings are not as strong as normal fillings and care should be taken during chewing, brushing and flossing.

Dental Filling Procedure

A dental filling is one of the fastest procedures performed by our dentists.

Generally, a normal filling will be done in a single sitting unless an inlay or onlay filling is required.

A general tooth filling procedure involves 4 steps which are outlined below:

Administer Local Anaesthetic (optional)

A local anaesthetic is always offered to the patient to minimise discomfort during the tooth filling procedure.

Preparation of The Tooth

The tooth and mouth is then prepared by inserting rubber dams into the mouth to keep the tooth dry and isolated during the procedure. After this, the tooth is then prepped by removing decay, old fillings or reshaping the damaged tooth. The tooth is then cleaned and dried, ready for placement of the dental filling.

Placement of The Dental Filling

The next step is the placement of the dental filling. The material and colour is carefully selected by your dentist to achieve the best possible outcome during the procedure.

This technical procedure involves the placement of a small amount of soft material that sets hard naturally or by the use of UV lights.

Filling Adjustment

The last step to a dental filling procedure is polishing and smoothing the filling to ensure a correct bite. This guarantees the longevity of the filling.

If you would like to learn more about the dental filling process, please watch Dr Ruben Sivarajah in our video at the top of this page.

Dental Filling Recovery and Aftercare

After your filling is finished it’s important to follow your dentist’s recommendation on recovery. Generally composite fillings harden instantly and you can eat immediately after your procedure.

Porcelain or silver fillings require longer to harden and no hard food is recommended for at least 24 hours.

Aftercare is important and revolves around regular brushing, flossing and active maintenance from your dentist/hygienist.

Why choose dental fillings over other solutions?

The benefits of dental fillings are:

  • Easiest way to fix a cavity

  • Can instantly improve sensitive teeth

  • Stops further tooth decay

  • Strengthens the tooth and enamel

  • Quick procedure – normally completed in a single sitting

  • Cheaper than other solutions

Dental Filling vs Crown

When choosing between a dental filling or dental crown your dentist will look at the size of the cavity or structural problem and decide whether it is worth the extra expense and treatment time to place a crown.

In the case of large cavities and cracks, a dental crown will need to be placed as the tooth has lost too much strength to support a filling and the pressure from chewing could crack the tooth further.

The general rule of thumb is that small cavities or structural problems are fixed with fillings, and large cavities or structural issues are treated with inlays, onlays or a crown.

That’s why it’s important to see us as soon as possible if you suspect you have a cavity or problem that’s causing tooth decay.

Dental Filling vs Root Canal

As with dental crowns, your dentist will look at the tooth and mouth to make a diagnosis. A root canal is necessary when a large cavity exists, the structural integrity of the tooth is compromised, deep decay has formed or an infection is noticeable in the pulp.

Dentists will only consider a root canal over a dental filling if there is a reason to suspect the natural integrity of the tooth is compromised or will degrade in the next few years.

Dental Filling vs Bonding

Tooth bonding is very similar to dental fillings in that tooth bonding uses a composite or porcelain material to repair damaged tooth structure or cosmetic defects such as chips, cracking, discoloration and decay.

The difference mainly comes from tooth bonding being used for cosmetic purposes rather than basic care. Bonding can also be used exclusively where only the appearance of the tooth is affected (discoloration, chips or cracks) but there is no sign of decay or structural issues.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Fillings

Do Dental Fillings Cause Sensitivity or Numbness?

It is normal to have some numbness immediately after having a dental filling as the anaesthetic wears off. However, numbness should not be felt more than 24 hours after the procedure has been performed.

It is also perfectly normal to experience sensitivity for the first few weeks with a new filling. Anything from air temperature changes, hot or cold foods or the pressure of biting can cause the tooth to feel sensitive. After a few weeks, your nerves will settle and you should be used to the new filling.

You should see your dentist immediately if you feel pain in the tooth as this could mean the filling is loose, cracked or you’re allergic to the material used in the filling.

My Old Filling Fell Out / Came Out, What Should I Do?

The first thing is not to panic, rarely is a filling falling out an emergency.

The first thing you want to do if possible is to save the filling. Crowns or porcelain fillings may be able to be used again with a bonding agent minimising the cost and timeframe of treatment.

Next, stop eating and drinking sugary or high carbohydrate foods. There is a possibility of increased tooth decay without the filling to protect the tooth.

It is advisable to come and see us as soon as possible to prevent further tooth decay or problems as the tooth will be weak without the filling to protect it.

Please state it is urgent when you call us so we may give you priority service.

It is also highly likely that you will be experiencing pain while the tooth is exposed. A small dab of over the counter clove oil can help dull the pain until your appointment.

Are Dental Fillings Safe When Pregnant?

Dental fillings are perfectly safe during pregnancy. If you are worried about the safety of the numbing medications your dentist may use during the procedure, they are in fact safe for both you and your baby.

The only exception to this is when you have a high-risk pregnancy. It’s always advisable to get your doctor’s approval before getting any dental procedure done.

My Dental Filling is Turning Black?

Fillings turning black are most likely caused by dental amalgam corroding over time. When the chemicals in the mouth interact with the filling the material corrodes changing the colour of the metal.

Sometimes this can be beneficial as it seals the cavity from further damage as time goes on but normally it is a problem as the colour can stain the surrounding teeth.

If you do have a filling that is turning black the best option is to make an appointment with your dentist to see if the filling is still healthy or if it is starting to stain your teeth. Your dentist may replace the filling depending on the age and condition of the filling.

Do Dental Fillings Hurt or Cause Pain?

During the procedure, there might be a tiny bit of pain during administration of a local anaesthetic but after that, you will not feel anything during the procedure. Once the procedure is complete your tooth may be sensitive for a few weeks but there should be no more pain as the tooth and nerves adapt.

Common causes of pain after a filling are outlined below and should give you a reasonable guide of when to come and see us:

Pain When Biting:

This occurs when you bite down. It’s normally noticed after the anaesthetic wears off and continues over time. In this case, the filling may be interfering with your bite.

You will need to return to your dentist and have the filling reshaped. If the pain still continues, it may indicate a further problem that requires additional treatment such as a root canal.

Pain From Hot or Cold:

For the first few weeks, there will be a slight pain to hot or cold, food and drink.

After these first weeks, if you experience a very sharp pain that occurs when your tooth touches something hot or cold that lingers on for a long time even after the hot or cold is removed. It may indicate irreversible damage to the nerve and you should contact your dentist.

On the other hand, if the pain goes away straight after hot or cold exposure you likely have sensitive teeth and could consider other options such as sensitive toothpaste or a sensitive covering agent from your dentist.

Constant Throbbing Ache:

If the decay was deep in the pulp of the tooth. This aching response may indicate the tissue is no longer healthy. In this case, a root canal procedure may be required.

Group Pain:

If there is pain or sensitivity in teeth next to the one that received the filling, there is likely nothing wrong with your filling. The filled tooth is simply passing along nerve signals it is receiving to other teeth. The pain should decrease on its own within one to two weeks.

How Much do Dental Fillings Cost?

Dental filling cost and pricing vary depending on the treatment and your health insurance provider.

Fillings are normally covered under basic services or general dental so there is little or no out of pocket expense to you depending on your level of cover.

We will always let you know during your consultation how much you can expect to pay so you can determine your exact out of pocket expense for your treatment.

Are Dental Fillings Covered by Health Insurance?

In most cases, fillings are covered under general dental which is available on most basic private health insurance packages. If in doubt it is best to check your health insurance provider website or call them to check if fillings are covered on your plan.

How Much Does a Dental Filling Replacement Cost?

Depending on the timeframe and if you got your dental fillings done at St Lucia Dental you may pay nothing for your replacement under our dental filling guarantee.

Normally dental filling replacements will cost the same as a standard filling because the tooth needs to be prepped and cleaned during the procedure, so the old filling can be removed during this step.

Alternatively, depending on the material, especially if an existing amalgam filling is still intact the procedure might be slightly more expensive due to the time involved in removing the old filling.

Does St Lucia Dental Have a Dental Filling Warranty or Guarantee?

We guarantee fillings for one year.

Our guarantee covers fillings that may break, loosen, crack, discolour or fall out under normal conditions of use.

It is a condition of this guarantee that you attend six monthly check-up and hygiene visits at St Lucia Dental and night splints are worn (where recommended).

I’m Interested in More Information about Dental Fillings in Brisbane, What Should I Do Next?

Hopefully, we’ve provided you with enough information to contact us but if not we can answer all your questions in your first consultation.

Call us on the number below or email us to arrange your consultation. A professional dentist will analyse your tooth and work with you to create a plan and timetable for your treatment.

If you feel good about the plan, treatment can begin immediately. If not, you’ve gained valuable information and lost nothing in the process. Call St Lucia Dental today to arrange an appointment. We look forward to chatting with you!