Dental Fillings

Or call 540-886-1979


601 Greenville Avenue

Staunton, VA 24401

Treat Harmful Cavities & Defeat Tooth Decay!

Experiencing pain from a cavity? Dr. Jesse Myers & Dr. Alan J. White proudly offer dental fillings as part of their comprehensive dental services to help you restore your affected tooth's structure and function due to a cavity.

Dental fillings serve as a crucial solution to address tooth decay and its consequences. By removing the decayed portion of the tooth and filling the resulting cavity, these fillings not only halt the progression of decay but also provide strength and stability to the tooth. This restoration procedure not only ensures your oral health but also enhances the aesthetics of your smile. The use of modern materials allows for a seamless blend with your natural teeth, creating a durable and aesthetically pleasing result. Dr. Myers and Dr. White prioritize your comfort and well-being, making the process of receiving dental fillings a straightforward and beneficial solution for maintaining a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile.

To take advantage of our experienced dental team to help you restore your oral health. Call 540-886-1979 or book online and set up an appointment! We are happy to help you.

Comprehensive Guide to Dental Fillings:

Everything You Need to Know

What is a Dental Filling, and What is its Purpose?

A dental filling is a restorative dental procedure used to repair and restore a tooth that has been damaged by decay or cavities. The primary purpose of a dental filling is to restore the tooth's structure and function by filling in the space left behind after the removal of decayed or damaged tooth material. Fillings help to:

  • Halt Decay: Dental fillings are used to stop the progression of tooth decay. When a cavity is left untreated, it can grow larger and lead to more extensive dental problems.
  • Restore Function: Fillings are essential for restoring the normal function of a tooth. This includes chewing and biting without discomfort or pain.
  • Prevent Further Damage: By sealing off the cavity or damaged area, fillings help prevent bacteria and food particles from entering, reducing the risk of infection or more significant damage.
  • Improve Aesthetics: Tooth-colored fillings can also be used to improve the appearance of a tooth affected by decay. They blend in with the natural tooth color and are less noticeable than traditional silver amalgam fillings.

Overall, dental fillings play a crucial role in maintaining oral health, preserving teeth, and preventing the need for more invasive treatments like dental crowns or extractions. The choice of filling material and the procedure used may vary depending on factors such as the location of the tooth, the extent of the damage, and patient preferences.

Different Types of Dental Fillings

There are different types of dental fillings available, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. While many dental professionals offer a range of options, one type that is often not recommended today is amalgam fillings. Here's an explanation of dental filling types and why amalgam fillings are sometimes discouraged:

Types of Dental Fillings:

  • Composite Fillings: Composite fillings are tooth-colored and made of a mixture of resin and glass particles. They are a popular choice for their natural appearance and can be used for front and back teeth. Composite fillings are bonded to the tooth, which allows for a conservative restoration.
  • Ceramic Fillings: Ceramic fillings, also known as porcelain fillings or inlays/onlays, are made from a ceramic material. They are highly durable and aesthetically pleasing, blending seamlessly with natural teeth.
  • Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are made from a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They have been used for many years but are becoming less common due to concerns about mercury exposure.

Why Amalgam Fillings Are Discouraged:

  • Mercury Content: One of the primary reasons for discouraging amalgam fillings is the presence of mercury. Although the mercury in dental amalgam is bound to other metals and considered safe for most individuals, there is ongoing debate and concern about potential mercury exposure and its effects on health.
  • Aesthetics: Amalgam fillings are silver in color and can be quite noticeable, especially on front teeth. Many patients prefer tooth-colored fillings for a more natural appearance.
  • Conservation of Tooth Structure: Composite and ceramic fillings often require less removal of healthy tooth structure compared to amalgam fillings, which may necessitate more extensive tooth preparation.
  • Allergy Concerns: Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to the metals in amalgam fillings, which can lead to allergic reactions or discomfort.
  • Advancements in Materials: Advances in dental materials have led to the development of tooth-colored fillings that offer both aesthetic and functional benefits, making them a preferred choice for many patients.

It's important to note that the choice of filling material should be made in consultation with one of our qualified dentists, taking into consideration factors like the patient's oral health, preferences, and any potential allergies or sensitivities. Our dental professionals prioritize patient safety and aim to provide the most suitable and effective treatment options for their individual needs.

Is Getting a Dental Filling Painful?

Getting a dental filling is typically not a painful procedure because it is performed under local anesthesia. Here's a breakdown of what to expect during the process:

  • Anesthesia: Before the filling procedure begins, one of our dentists will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth. You may feel a slight pinch or a stinging sensation as the numbing agent is injected, but this discomfort is minimal and brief.
  • Numbness: After the anesthesia takes effect, you should not feel any pain during the filling procedure. Your mouth and the tooth being worked on will be numb, ensuring a painless experience.
  • Tooth Preparation: The dentist will then use dental instruments to remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. This step may involve drilling, but since the area is numb, you should not feel any pain.
  • Filling Placement: Once the tooth is prepared, the dentist will place the chosen filling material into the cavity to restore the tooth's shape and function.
  • Adjustments: The dentist will make any necessary adjustments to ensure that the filling fits correctly and does not interfere with your bite.
  • Completion: Once the filling is in place and properly shaped, the dentist will polish it to make it smooth and blend in with your natural tooth.

After the procedure, it is common to experience some post-operative sensitivity or mild discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. This sensitivity is usually temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended by your dentist.

How Long Does a Dental Filling Procedure Take?

The duration of a dental filling procedure can vary depending on several factors, including the size and location of the cavity, the type of filling material used, and the individual patient's oral health. In general, a straightforward dental filling procedure typically takes around 20 to 60 minutes. The process involves cleaning and preparing the affected tooth, placing the filling material, and making any necessary adjustments to ensure proper fit and function. Composite and ceramic fillings may take a bit longer than amalgam fillings due to the meticulous layering and curing process. It's important to note that more extensive cavities or complex cases may require additional time. Your dentist will provide you with a more accurate estimate based on your specific needs during the initial evaluation.

Can I Eat and Drink Immediately after Getting a Filling?

After getting a dental filling, it's generally recommended to wait until the anesthesia has worn off before eating or drinking. The numbing effects of the local anesthesia can make it difficult to chew and swallow safely immediately after the procedure. Additionally, it's a good practice to avoid hot or cold foods and beverages right after getting a filling, as the treated tooth may be sensitive to temperature changes for a little while. Once the numbness has completely subsided, which usually takes a few hours, you can resume your regular eating and drinking habits. It's essential to maintain proper oral hygiene and a balanced diet to support the healing process and the longevity of your filling.

How Long do Dental Fillings Last?

Dental fillings do not last forever, and their lifespan can vary depending on several factors. While fillings are durable and effective in restoring teeth damaged by decay or cavities, they may eventually require replacement or maintenance. Here are some considerations regarding the longevity of dental fillings:

  • Filling Material: The type of filling material used can impact its lifespan. Amalgam (silver) fillings tend to be very durable and have a long track record of use. However, tooth-colored composite and ceramic fillings may also have a substantial lifespan with proper care.
  • Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, can help extend the life of fillings. Effective oral care prevents new decay from forming around or underneath the filling.
  • Dietary Choices: A diet high in sugary or acidic foods and beverages can contribute to the deterioration of fillings over time. Minimizing the consumption of such items can help preserve the filling's integrity.
  • Tooth Location: Fillings in back teeth (molars and premolars) may experience more wear and tear due to chewing forces and may need replacement sooner than those in less-stressed areas.
  • Biting and Clenching Habits: Bruxism (teeth grinding) or clenching can place excessive pressure on fillings and may lead to their premature failure. A dentist can recommend protective measures like a nightguard.
  • Age of the Filling: Over time, even well-maintained fillings may wear down, chip, or develop cracks. Regular dental check-ups can detect early signs of filling deterioration.
  • Quality of Placement: The skill and precision of the dentist during the filling procedure can impact its longevity. A well-placed filling is more likely to last.

While dental fillings are not permanent, with proper care and maintenance, they can last for many years. Your dentist will monitor the condition of your fillings during routine check-ups and recommend replacement or repairs when necessary. Regular dental visits are essential for ensuring the longevity of your fillings and the overall health of your teeth.

Are there any Potential Side Effects or Risks Associated with Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings are a common and generally safe dental procedure, but like any medical intervention, they do carry some potential side effects and risks. It's essential to be aware of these factors and discuss them with your dentist before getting a filling. Here are some potential side effects and risks associated with dental fillings:

  • Tooth Sensitivity: It is common to experience increased tooth sensitivity, especially to hot or cold temperatures, after getting a filling. This sensitivity is usually temporary and should subside within a few days to a couple of weeks. Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpaste or gels can help manage this sensitivity.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic or hypersensitive to certain filling materials, such as metals used in amalgam fillings or components of dental adhesives. Inform your dentist of any allergies or sensitivities you may have.
  • Pain or Discomfort: After the local anesthesia wears off, you may experience mild discomfort or pain at the site of the filling. This discomfort typically resolves within a day or two and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Filling Failure: In some cases, dental fillings may fail due to factors like wear and tear, recurrent decay, or improper placement. Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor the condition of fillings and address any issues promptly.
  • Cracks or Fractures: Teeth with large fillings may become more susceptible to cracking or fracturing over time. Your dentist can assess and monitor the structural integrity of the tooth and recommend appropriate treatment if needed.
  • Infection: Although rare, there is a slight risk of infection at the site of the filling if proper sterilization procedures are not followed. Dentists adhere to strict infection control protocols to minimize this risk.
  • Allergic Reactions to Anesthesia: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the local anesthesia used during the procedure. Your dentist will inquire about any known allergies before administering anesthesia.
  • Color Changes: Tooth-colored fillings can, on occasion, change color slightly over time due to staining from certain foods or beverages. Regular dental cleanings can help prevent or minimize staining.
  • Adjacent Tooth Sensitivity: In some cases, adjacent teeth may experience temporary sensitivity or discomfort following a filling procedure. This typically resolves on its own.

It's essential to communicate openly with one of our dentists about any concerns, allergies, or prior dental experiences to ensure a safe and comfortable filling procedure. Our team will take steps to minimize risks and side effects and will discuss post-operative care and potential complications specific to your case. Regular follow-up appointments and good oral hygiene practices are key to maintaining the health and longevity of your dental fillings.

Can I get my Old Metal Fillings Replaced with Tooth-Colored Fillings for Cosmetic Reasons?

Yes, many individuals choose to have their old metal amalgam fillings replaced with tooth-colored fillings, primarily for cosmetic reasons. The main motivation is to improve the appearance of their smile by replacing the silver-colored amalgam with fillings that closely match the natural color of their teeth. Tooth-colored fillings, such as composite or ceramic, provide a more aesthetically pleasing result.

However, it's important to note that the decision to replace amalgam fillings should be made carefully, considering both cosmetic goals and potential health concerns. When replacing amalgam fillings, there is a slight risk of releasing mercury vapor during the removal process. The removal process can lead to brief, low-level exposure to mercury vapor. To minimize this risk, Dr. Myers specifically uses DryShield's high-volume suction system when removing old amalgam fillings. The DryShield's mouthpiece plays a crucial role in removing excess water, saliva, and potentially harmful particles generated during the removal of amalgam fillings. This feature helps capture and contain any aerosols or debris produced during the procedure, reducing the risk of inhalation or ingestion by the patient.

How can I Prevent the Need for Future Dental Fillings?

Preventing the need for future dental fillings involves adopting good oral hygiene practices and making smart lifestyle choices to maintain your dental health. Here are some essential steps you can take to reduce the risk of cavities and the need for dental fillings:

  • Brush Your Teeth Regularly: Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and before bedtime, using hydroxyapatite toothpaste. Ensure that you brush for at least two minutes, reaching all surfaces of your teeth.
  • Floss Daily: Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth and along the gumline, where your toothbrush may not reach effectively.
  • Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods: Reduce your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, as they can contribute to tooth decay. If you do indulge, rinse your mouth with water afterward or brush your teeth.
  • Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum, particularly gum containing xylitol, can stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Drink Water: Water is an excellent choice for staying hydrated and rinsing away food particles and acids from your mouth. Fluoridated water can also help protect your teeth.
  • Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Dentists can detect dental issues early, provide preventive treatments like dental sealants and fluoride treatments, and advise you on your oral health.
  • Consider Dental Sealants: Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars to prevent decay in the grooves and fissures.
  • Address Dry Mouth: If you have dry mouth, consult your dentist for solutions to help maintain saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in rinsing away bacteria and acids.
  • Wear a Mouthguard: If you grind your teeth at night or participate in contact sports, consider wearing a custom-made mouthguard to protect your teeth from damage.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking and tobacco use increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Quitting can significantly improve your oral health.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to oral health problems. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation.
  • Maintain a Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet rich in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K), anti-oxidants, and probiotics are recommended for optimal oral health. These foods provide essential nutrients and support gum health, bolster the immune system, and help maintain a balanced oral microbiome.
  • Practice Stress Management: Chronic stress can lead to teeth grinding and other oral health issues. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise or relaxation techniques.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your daily routine and seeking regular dental care, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of needing dental fillings in the future. One of our dentists can provide personalized guidance and recommendations based on your unique oral health needs.

Which Filling is Right for You?

Ready to take the first step in saving your smile from tooth decay? One of our experienced dentists would love to help you treat your painful cavity. Contact Dr. Jesse Myers & Dr. Alan J. White's office at 540-886-1979 in Staunton, VA, and our dedicated team will assist you promptly. Alternatively, you can fill out our online appointment request form at the bottom of this page at your convenience.

“My dental experience with Dr. White was excellent! I arrived early to complete some necessary paper work and was taken back for care immediately. My procedure was pain free and the results were great! All staff are friendly and very professional!” - Steven

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Thank you for visiting the dental practice of Dr. Jesse Myers, D.M.D. and Dr. Alan J. White, D.D.S. online! Our dentists provide world class dentistry at valley prices! We are excited to work with you and your family members to resolve all of your dental needs. Call us or schedule your dental appointment today! We're honored to help you become proud of your smile!


601 Greenville Avenue

Staunton, VA 24401



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