A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When we give you a filling, we first remove the decayed tooth material, clean the affected area and then fill the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used by us for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings) and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc). What to Expect During a FILLING Local anesthesia – At the beginning of your filling procedure, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth. Tooth decay removal – Any decay in the tooth will be removed by cutting through the enamel using a drill. After the decay is removed, the space is shaped to ready it for the filling. Etching – For a bonded filling (composite resins) the tooth is etched with an acid gel before placing the filling. Resin application – Certain types of fillings are hardened by using a bright light. This makes it strong. Polishing – After the filling has been placed, the tooth is polished. Temporary Fillings You may receive a temporary filling (usually white, off-white or gray) if: Your treatment requires more than one appointment. It is desired to wait a short period of time for the tooth to heal. You have a deep cavity and the pulp (containing the nerve and blood vessels) becomes exposed during treatment. You need emergency dental treatment. A temporary filling may make your tooth feel better. This is because the filling seals the tooth, protecting the pulp from bacteria and reducing sensitivity. Temporary fillings are not meant to last. If you get a temporary filling, make sure you visit us to get a permanent one. If you don't, your tooth could become infected or you could have other problems. Why Replace a Filling? Fillings don't last forever. They can become discolored. Composite, tooth-colored fillings pick up stains, and yellow or darken over time. When you chew, your teeth and any fillings in them are subjected to tremendous pressures. Even if no other problems develop, some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it falls out, leaks or cracks. Bacteria and bits of food can seep down under a filling that is cracked or leaking. Since you can't clean there, the bacteria feed on the bits of food and form the acid that causes tooth decay. Decay under a filling can become extensive before you notice it or it causes you pain. This is why you should have your fillings checked regularly and get them replaced when problems are found.