BLOG

  • Cray Dental Care

A guide to fillings from our dentist in Orpington

Fillings are at the centre of the modern restorative dentistry that our dentist in Orpington practices; however, fillings are a lot older than you may expect.

Cavity formations


Cavities don't form overnight, and they are usually only noticed when they cause discomfort, damaging enough of the enamel to create temperature sensitivity or make direct contact with the root, exposing it to air. By this point, intervention cannot be a mere improvement in oral hygiene as this sort of damage requires filling, with a filling! Or, in some cases, a crown.


The first stage of cavity formation can be little more than a brown speck in the tooth. This is a small colony of bacteria that has found a sheltered nook to avoid being dislodged by a brush or the natural flow of saliva over your teeth. The bacteria colony will produce metabolic by-products that are acidic and will slowly tunnel deeper into the tooth, giving the colony more shelter over time.


Filling past and present


One of the oldest pieces of dentistry in archaeological evidence is a skull unearthed in Northern Italy. It showed pine resin that had been placed whilst hot into a dental cavity. This cavity had been thoroughly cleaned before the hot resin had been applied. When it cooled, the first known filling was formed. This neolithic skull shows the fundamental need for fillings and why we as a species have been creating them before writing!


Thankfully, a lot has changed since then, and campfire heated tree resin is no longer part of our dental toolkit. The materials used in fillings have become progressively more firm, resistant, stronger and longer-lasting. From gold to amalgam, we have welcomed the UV-cured composite materials that we use every day to create white fillings that match your natural enamel and can be blended in seamlessly, giving a near-perfect filling material to a very old idea.


NHS funding


NHS funding is coloured by clinical effectiveness; its cost vs value is determined by the NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines. Our dentist in Orpington provides many NHS-approved amalgam treatments that are excellent options for rear teeth.


The continued concerns about the health implications of nickel-amalgam are based on a misunderstanding of the products used and the historic use of mercury, which is no longer present in dental care. The General Dental Council has repeatedly shown in its own research and independent studies that metal amalgam fillings are entirely safe. That said, many patients choose to have their traditional fillings replaced with composite, but this is a decision based on appearance and not medically relevant, falling outside the remit of NHS care.


Considering aesthetics


At Cray Dental Care, our dentist in Orpington knows that most patients consider aesthetics to be an important part of any treatment regime, and the relatively low cost of composite UV-cured fillings makes it difficult not to simply self-fund white fillings over the NHS metal amalgam options.


If you'd like to find out more about white composite filling options or our fees and financing, please feel free to get in contact with the surgery.