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Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are a common restorative procedure and just one of the many dental care services offered at Monarch Dental. Find the Monarch Dental location nearest you and schedule an appointment today to find out if you might benefit from a dental filling.

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What are dental fillings?

As the name implies, dental fillings are used to fill in part of a tooth that has been damaged by decay or worn away by trauma. Restoring the tooth to its original integrity helps prevent any future damage, which can make sure you don’t lose the tooth in the future. Traditionally, fillings were made from metal. But today, materials like metal amalgam, porcelain, and composite resin are all available for a more natural look. 

Who needs dental fillings?

Dental fillings are typically used to repair cavities, which are soft spots of tooth decay created by oral bacteria. After a consultation and checkup to determine if you do, in fact, have a cavity, your dentist will be able to remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill it back in with the filling material. Not only does this stop additional tooth decay, but it also keeps the tooth strong and resistant to damage in the future. 

Scheduling regular cleanings and checkup appointments are important to cavity prevention because they allow your dentist to use x-rays and lasers to detect any small cavities before they grow larger and cause you any discomfort.

Other than general discomfort, signs you may have a cavity that requires a filling include:

  • Sharp pain when biting down
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and food.
  • A black or brown spot appearing on the top of your tooth
  • A constant, dull ache
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing

While not all cavities cause the symptoms above, they often present themselves with pain and discomfort. However, it’s not uncommon for the cavity to already be large and in need of filling before you notice it. 

Aside from cavities, other things also may cause your teeth to need fillings, such as:

  • Teeth that have been chipped 
  • Teeth that have been worn down over time by grinding
  • Biting nails or using your teeth to open things

What materials are used in dental fillings?

Nearly all fillings used to be made from metals like gold or silver because of their durability. However, many people don’t like how conspicuous they are in the mouth, leading to the development of other types of filling materials that create a more natural look.

Based on the size of your cavity, the location, and your budget, your dentist will be able to help you decide on the best material for you, with options like:

Metal Amalgams

Metal fillings, while the most noticeable, are also the most durable. Silver fillings typically last between 10 and 15 years, while gold fillings can last a lifetime. Because these metals are so easy to see in the mouth, though, they are typically chosen as a filling for back teeth, which are harder to see when you smile. Typically, metal amalgams are also the cheapest option, adding to their allure. With the exception of gold and silver fillings, most metal amalgams are a blend of several metals.

Composite Resin

A composite resin is a filling made from a specialized epoxy material like ceramic or silica. These are a popular choice for front teeth or other visible areas because they can be specially colored to blend in with the natural color of your tooth. Another benefit of a composite filling is that your dentist won’t have to remove as much of the original tooth before filling it in. Because of this, they typically work better for larger cavities. However, composite resin fillings may need to be replaced every ten years or sooner, unlike metal amalgams.


Also known as inlays, porcelain fillings are the most expensive filling options; however, they last longer than composite resin fillings. Typically, dentists use inlays for worn-down teeth rather than for treating a cavity.

What happens during a filling appointment?

Depending on the size of the cavity or the extent of the damage, filling a tooth typically takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. If you have several cavities, decayed areas, or other issues that need fillings, your dentist may suggest having them all filled in the same appointment to save you time and money. 

In general, here are the  steps to getting a tooth filled:

Arrival and Preparation

After you have arrived and checked in for your appointment, you will be escorted to the treatment area, where your dentist will start by numbing a small area of your cheek using a topical gel. Once your cheek and gum are numbed, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to further numb your tooth and the surrounding area. After that takes effect, your dentist will then begin to remove the decayed area with specialized tools. You should not feel any pain during this process, only feeling slight vibrations or pressure. 

Filled and Polished

Once all the decayed parts of the tooth are removed, your dentist will rinse the tooth with fluoride to prevent further decay. Once the tooth is clean, they will begin to fill it in with your chosen filling. Depending on what material you choose, it may need to be set with a UV light, which will harden it. Once your filling has hardened, your dentist will again use the drill to shape your filling to match your teeth. Once it has been shaped, it will be polished, and smoothed so it doesn’t interfere with your bite.

A porcelain filling or an inlay could take two appointments to complete. The first is to prepare the tooth and cast the mold, and the second is to insert the customized filling. Some dental offices are equipped with a computer-aided design program that allows your dentist to design, create, and insert your filling all in one appointment.

How do you care for dental fillings?

After your filling appointment, your jaw may be a bit sore, but other than that, you shouldn’t experience any severe pain. Occasionally, some people notice sensitivity in the filled-in tooth, but that typically fades within a week or two.

Caring for a tooth with a filling is similar to caring for any other normal, healthy tooth. Brushing and flossing are still very important to keeping bad bacteria away from the filling. 

Regular cleanings with your dentist are also crucial for maintaining a healthy filling. They allow your dentist to check up on your filling and ensure that it does not become damaged in any way. Cleanings with your dentist should be scheduled for twice a year.

Signs that that may indicate your filling has become damaged: 

  • Pain when brushing or flossing
  • Persistent toothache
  • Sensitivity in the treated tooth
  • Pain in the treated tooth when biting down
  • Bad breath even after brushing
  • A cracking feeling when you bite down on the filling
  • The tooth surrounding the filling turning dark 

If you begin to notice these or any other symptoms with the filled-in tooth, it is important to contact your dentist right away and schedule a checkup. Depending on when you noticed the damage, your dentist may be able to replace the damaged filling. If the damage is not addressed in a timely manner and bacteria have gotten in under the filling, then it may be necessary to create a larger filling or, in the most serious cases, perform a root canal.

How much do dental fillings cost?

The cost of a filling depends on the location of the tooth and the size of the cavity or decay that needs to be filled. The materials also affect the price of the filling. Silver amalgam is the most affordable and ranges from anywhere between $50-$150 for a filling. A composite resin will cost a bit more, at around $90-$250. And the most expensive materials are porcelain or gold, which can range anywhere from $250-$4,500. Typically, most silver amalgams or composite resins will be covered by insurance. Porcelain inlays are not always fully covered, but that depends on your insurance provider. 

Whether you have insurance or not and what type, as well as the type of financing or payment plans you need will determine how much you’ll pay out of pocket for a filling. Be sure to check with the Monarch Dental location nearest you for exact pricing.

Monarch Dental: Making Fillings Affordable

Fillings can’t wait; cavities and tooth decay won’t heal on their own, and will only get worse with time. At Monarch Dental, we don’t believe anyone should avoid getting a filling because of cost, so we work hard to make sure all of our dental services–including dental fillings–are convenient and affordable. We accept a long list of dental insurances along with CareCredit, and we offer our own OneSmile Dental Plan, which provides members with discounts on all dental services.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a cavity, you may have a tooth in need of a filling. Call the Monarch Dental office nearest you today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly and experienced dental professionals. Together, we’ll help you find the right filling material and restore your healthy smile!