A filling for everyone.

In determining if your tooth needs a filling; it will need to be thoroughly examined by a dentist. During this process, the dentist will want to know if there is sensitivity or pain, the duration of such pain, any factors that trigger or stop the pain e.t.c. This serves as a guide to know the extent of damage to the tooth. In Nigeria, the no. 1 reason people ever visit a dentist is (you guessed right)……PAIN. The tooth might have been damaged for several years or a hole might be present for several years, yet the individual only comes to the clinic when the pain becomes unbearable.
I will let you in on a little secret: the larger the hole or extent of damage to a tooth, the less likelihood of long term success of any filling that will be done to restore it. (sounds logical, doesn’t it?)
So, in other words, visit the dentist as soon as you notice any sensitivity, any dark discoloration, any chip, crack or hole on your tooth or teeth. The earlier you come, the better for the lifespan of your tooth
As part of the dental examination, the dentist will want to take an x-ray of the tooth. This is important because it will show the internal structure of the tooth, the presence of or depth of any hole and the state of the dental pulp (the sensitive part or ‘life’ of the tooth). If the hole in the tooth has not affected the pulp, the tooth is very fit to be filled by over three different options. However, if the hole has affected the pulp, the options are limited to two: 1. Root Canal Treatment 2. Remove the tooth.
The cost of the filling and your financial capability is a major decider on the choice of filling to be done. In Nigeria, cost of dental filling ranges from 4,000- 25,000 naira depending on the type and location of the clinic.
For the purpose of this blog, I will talk about five common options of dental filling available to you.
1.TEMPORARY DRESSING OR FILLING: Like the name implies, it is a temporary filling and usually is not meant to stay in the tooth longer than 2 weeks. It’s strength deteriorates with the passage of time. It is done mostly as a palliative measure before a more permanent filling is done so as to prevent any negative reaction from the tooth. For instance, when a hole is very very close to the pulp, but not in the pulp.
2.AMALGAM FILLING: Amalgam is a combination (an alloy) of silver and mercury. It is typically greyish or silver in color. It is very durable and has a long lifespan, usually between 8-12 years. Personally, I have seen a woman who had an amalgam filling 27 years ago and the filling was still intact. It is used mostly in posterior teeth because it can withstand the pressures of crushing or chewing when eating. A major drawback is that it requires drilling of the tooth to create a suitably shaped cavity for the filling material (something of concern to people who are nervous about the dentist needle or his drill). Of course due to its color, it cannot be used in the front teeth plus the fact that it lacks strength in thin sections.
3.GIC (Glass Ionomer Cement): try to ignore the full name.this is the dentist’s magic cement. It does not require any drilling and most times, no injections or anesthesia. It is commonly used for Atraumatic Restorative Treatment, especially in communities or places where there is no drill or equipment.
4.COMPOSITE FILLING: This is a tooth-coloured filling material, with a wide selection of shades to go with most basic tooth colors. It can be used in both anterior and posterior teeth; however it cannot be used in very large holes.
5.ROOT CANAL TREATMENT: simply called “RCT” is a procedure that involves removing the pulp (nerves, blood vessels) from within a tooth and filling it with an inert material. The tooth becomes “non-sensitive”, but functional. However, a crown must be placed over the tooth to protect it from pressure which can cause it to break due to its “lifeless” state.
As you can see, depending on your preference or financial status there is a filling for you if you need it.