General Family Dentistry in Des Moines, IA

Personalized & Comfortable Lifelong Dental Care

Dental Fillings in Des Moines & Urbandale, IA

Dr. Chris McDonald uses dental fillings to repair teeth compromised by decay, fracture or wear. A filling recreates the appearance of a normal, healthy tooth as well as strengthens the tooth so it can bite and chew normally. Restoring damaged or decayed teeth with fillings prevents dental problems from worsening and requiring more extensive, costly care in the future.

Why Dental Fillings Are Used to Treat Cavities

If you’re like most people, you probably think of fillings in the context of cavity treatment. Cavities (or caries) are tiny holes that develop in the tooth enamel. Your mouth has naturally occurring bacteria that, when combined with leftover food particles, forms a sticky film called plaque. Plaque produces acids that eat away at tooth enamel, creating the tiny holes or pits known as cavities. Cavities may be visibly noticeable; they can also cause sensitivity to heat or cold and/or toothaches.

Fillings plug the tiny holes and pits of a cavity and stop cavities from getting bigger. Untreated cavities can enlarge and gradually destroy more tooth structure. If a cavity gets big enough, it can expose the dental “pulp” inside your tooth, which is made up of sensitive connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. If the pulp were to get infected, your tooth would require a root canal and a bigger restoration called a crown.

Dr. McDonald also uses fillings for other purposes besides cavity treatment. For instance, he places fillings to even out the surfaces of damaged teeth or teeth that have worn down due to chronic grinding or clenching.

Amalgam and Tooth-Colored Filling Options

Caries Treatment in Urbandale, IA

Once Dr. McDonald has determined that you have tooth decay or damage and require a filling, he can explain your treatment options.

Traditionally, fillings were crafted from metal or amalgam materials. Nowadays, many patients prefer the look of tooth-colored fillings. These fillings blend in with the surrounding natural tooth structure for a more appealing look. Tooth-colored fillings also require less removal of natural tooth structure, making them the better choice for the long-term health of the tooth.

The type of filling that is right for you depends on the location of the cavity in your mouth, the amount of biting force that tooth is subjected to, your aesthetic goals, your medical history and other factors. Dr. McDonald will work with you to find the option that best suits your needs and goals.

Dental Filling Treatment Details and Results

The process of getting a dental filling can be completed in as little as one dental appointment, depending on the type of filling being used. Tooth-colored composite fillings are applied directly to the tooth; indirect fillings called inlays or onlays are created in a dental laboratory and then fitted onto the tooth. Inlays and onlays are more substantial than a direct filling but not as comprehensive as a crown; they are used to repair bigger cavities that cover more surface area of the tooth.

When placing a direct filling, Dr. McDonald first numbs the area surrounding your affected tooth. Next, he prepares the affected tooth by removing decayed or damaged tooth structure and cleaning the tooth. Then, Dr. McDonald applies the filling material directly to your tooth, shaping it to recreate the look and feel of a natural tooth. Finally, he uses a handheld light to harden the filling material. He finishes by polishing the tooth.

A well-placed filling can last five to seven years or more, depending on the material.


The purpose of fillings is to address damage caused by tooth decay. If you do not get a filling, the bacteria will continue to harm the tooth, leading to more damage and a larger cavity. Eventually, decay compromises the tooth to such an extent that tooth loss is possible, which would require a different type of restorative service to address. A filling is a routine procedure that can help you get your oral health back on track.


Tooth-colored fillings are offered at McDonald Family Dentistry and are ideal for many patients since the color can be closely matched to the color of the surrounding teeth. This material can also require less tooth removal when compared to other materials. Other filling materials include:

Gold, which can be more costly than other materials.

Silver, which is another common filling material but often requires that more of the tooth be removed. It also results in an unflattering greyish hue to the tooth and is susceptible to fractures. Silver may trigger patients with metal allergies.

Ceramic, which can be used as a filling material but can be just as costly as gold.

Glass ionomer, which is not as strong as competitive materials and is prone to fractures. It also does not offer the longevity of other materials, typically lasting only a few years before replacement is needed.


Temporary filling may be necessary in some cases, such as indirect fillings or after getting a root canal. Dr. McDonald will let you know if you need one and what to expect.

Learn More About Dental Fillings

For more information about your dental filling options, please call or send us an email today.


Why Choose McDonald Family Dentistry

  • Long history of serving the community’s dental care needs
  • Convenient office location
  • Wide range of services to meet every patient’s goals
  • High-tech, state-of-the-art technology
  • Competitive fees

A Down-To-Earth
Family Practice

Under the leadership of Dr. McDonald, our entire team goes above and beyond to create an environment that is down to earth and relaxed. Thanks to our office’s beautiful natural surroundings and friendly, laid-back atmosphere, even the most anxious patients report feeling comfortable. Come see the difference for yourself!