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Why Do I Need a Filling? Six Reasons Why Dentists Do Fillings

Many people wonder why their dentist tells them that they need a filling.  Although having a cavity is the #1 reason we do fillings, there are also many other reasons that people get fillings.

Why You Need a Filling

1 – Cavities

Cavities remain the number one reason that dentists give patients fillings.  Even so, not all cavities need fillings.  Sometimes very small cavities can be “watched.”  When this happens, the dentist monitors the cavity and if it appears to be repairing itself, you won’t need to get a filling.

I’d like to add a word of caution: Only leave a cavity unfilled if your dentist has recommended that your cavity should be watched.  Putting off necessary dental work can complicate your dental health and increase your costs.

If you do have small cavities that your dentist is keeping an eye on, check out these 12 weapons of plaque destruction to see how you can help your cavity heal.

2 – Tooth Fracture

Many times, fractured teeth can be repaired with white composite filling material.  You can take a look at a tooth that I repaired with a white composite filling before I started working with real patients in dental school.

Prevent your teeth from fracturing by wearing a mouth guard during these 16 activities.

3 – A Slow Loss of Tooth Structure

When you fracture your tooth, you lose a lot of tooth structure quickly.  There are other ways that you can lose tooth structure more slowly, such as abrasion, abfraction, erosion, and attrition.  You can learn about those in the article about the four ways you wear away tooth structure.

The best way to prevent this type of tooth loss is by avoiding acidic drinks and acidic candy, not grinding your teeth, and not using your teeth as tools.

4 – Tooth Discoloration

Do I Need a Filling?Another reason that dentists do fillings is to cover up discolored teeth.  Teeth can be discolored for a variety of reasons, such as staining from antibiotics and dental fluorosis.

5 – Replacing Old Fillings

Old fillings may need to be replaced.  Over time, white fillings can discolor and the bond between the filling and the tooth can break down.  Silver fillings may also fracture after many years of service.  One of the first fillings I did in dental school (unbeknownst to my patient!) was the replacement of a silver amalgam filling that had fractured.

Questions About Fillings?

Do you have any questions about why dentists do fillings or why you need a filling?  Go ahead and leave a comment in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!



  1. I have changed my diet to fruits and vegetables in the last 3 years. I have no need for dentists even though I am a type II diabetic. Don’t have much sugar in your diet. Do eat celery as a snack. Do buy “goldenseal” and consume it according to directions. Take vitamins A, D3, and K2. Solve your own problems. Dentists were not available 500 years ago and people had great teeth back then. Search on the net alternative diets and natural cures. The sooner the better.

  2. I had no clue that fillings have to be replaced. I have some that are coming up on 20 years. I guess I should have my dentist take a look at them, and see if they look okay. How do do fillings last usually, or is it a case by case kind of thing?

  3. I find it interesting to know in the article that a fractured teeth can be repaired with white composite filling material. What would a fractured teeth mean in this case? My cousin happened to bump her teeth against a pole and has lost about six teeth in all. Her teeth seem to look quite crooked because of that.

  4. Wow, I had no idea that a filling could be used to help prevent the loss of tooth structure; that’s pretty cool! I thought that the only way to do that was with a bond or veneer. However, it makes sense that a filling could help too since it is placed on the interior of the tooth.

  5. In your article, you stated that cavities remain the number one reason that dentists give patients fillings. Do most dentists try to avoid using fillings or are they the most popular dental treatment? My son started complaining, on the way to school this morning that one of his teeth was hurting. Finding a reputable dentist to treat him might be a good option.

  6. My tooth has been hurting and I’m pretty sure it’s a cavity. It makes sense that a dental filling would be beneficial! I’ll make sure that I have my dentist look at it to see if I would need one for it.


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