Fillings are one of the most common dental procedures. Most people who regularly go to the dentist will have at least one filling done in their lifetime, with many of us having multiple. Fillings are tooth-colored porcelain, which is a mixture of plastic and glass that has a similar look and feel to natural teeth.
This material is so similar to the material of your own teeth that it reacts almost exactly the same to the transfer of force caused by chewing to your natural teeth. This means that your fillings will not only look just like your teeth, but they will function just like them as well.
Composite fillings can be used to repair a wide variety of common tooth damages ranging from decay to cracks, breaks, and fractures. We begin by priming the area by cleaning off and removing any damaged areas before filling the area back up with composite filling. Composite fillings can be color adjusted to perfectly match your teeth, making them the best option for your front teeth and more visible area. Though these fillings are extremely durable and resilient, they may need replacing if you damage them or if they are not properly cared for.
The actual procedure of applying fillings is very easy and straightforward. Your filling will be applied and sealed all in one quick appointment with little to no pain at all. Our expert dental team then places, shapes, and polishes your new filling to perfectly match the color and shape of your teeth.
Common reasons for composite fillings include:
Benefits of Composite Fillings
For decades, gold and silver amalgam were the materials of choice for tooth fillings. But these fillings have numerous disadvantages. Not only are they aesthetically unsightly, but amalgam fillings also pose a risk to dental and overall health. Some individuals have sensitivities or allergies to metal. Even for those who are not sensitive to metal, amalgam fillings contain small amounts of mercury, which can be released in the form of a vapor and inhaled. Another downside to amalgam fillings is that they expand and contract with heat or cold, making them prone to tiny cracks and hairline fractures.
Furthermore, metal fillings don’t chemically bond to tooth structure and need mechanical retention to stay in place. This means more natural tooth structure must be removed; a series of “undercuts” or ledges has to be created inside the tooth to help hold the metal filling in place. Removing too much tooth structure compromises the tooth’s strength, making it more likely to crack or fracture later in life.
As the negative effects of having metal in the mouth are better understood, and as dental materials evolve, more people are opting for composite fillings. Modern composite fillings are made from tooth-colored materials (plastic and ceramic compounds) so they blend in seamlessly with natural tooth structure. They do not subject patients to the potentially harmful effects of mercury. Composite fillings bond directly to the surface of the tooth, and the flexibility of the material means less natural tooth structure must be removed. Ultimately, this is better for the health and longevity of the tooth.
Candidates for Tooth Colored Fillings
You may be a candidate for composite dental fillings if you need to rebuild one or more teeth that have cavities or are slightly chipped, cracked or broken. Fillings are also a good option for teeth that have sustained excessive wear and tear. You may also consider replacing old metal or amalgam fillings with composite fillings.
Dental Filling Treatment Details
Fillings can be placed in a single appointment. Your tooth is completely numbed to prevent any discomfort during treatment.
To begin, Dr. Pearson removes the decayed or damaged tooth structure. Or, if she is replacing gold or amalgam fillings, she carefully removes the old filling. Dr. Pearson then shapes the leftover space to support the new composite filling. She applies the composite resin material to the tooth and hardens it with a blue light. Dr. Pearson sculpts the material as needed to restore a normal chewing surface and fit your bite. When she is finished, she polishes the filling so it looks translucent, like natural tooth structure. It should be nearly impossible to tell the difference between your natural tooth and composite filling.
Tooth Colored Filling Recovery & Aftercare
Immediately after receiving your new filling, your mouth may still feel numb. As the anesthetic wears off, be careful when consuming hot foods or beverages. You may not be able to properly assess the temperature of the food or drink and could unintentionally burn your mouth.
Slight tooth or gum sensitivity is common after receiving a filling, but should go away quickly. You can chew on the side of the mouth that received the filling as soon as it feels comfortable.
Continue to keep up your normal at-home oral hygiene routine, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. If necessary, brush with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth until the aftereffect subsides.
Dental Filling Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between a dental filling and a crown?
A dental filling is a special material that fills the void that remains after decay is removed. Fillings are most suitable when the decayed area is small.
A dental crown covers the entire exterior of the tooth. Crowns are most suitable for teeth that are severely decayed, cracked or fractured.
How do I know if I have a cavity and need a filling?
Signs that suggest you have a cavity and require a filling include the following:
- Sensitivity to hot, cold or sugary foods
- Pain when biting or chewing
- A rough chewing surface
- A visible hole or dark spot on the surface of a tooth
If you experience any of these signs, promptly schedule an appointment with Dr. Pearson.
How can I reduce my risk of getting a cavity?
Your mouth has naturally occurring bacteria, and if you consume sugary or starchy foods or beverages, the bacteria feed off the sugars and form acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Over time, this creates holes, or cavities.
The best way to reduce the risk of getting a cavity is to limit consumption of sugary, starchy foods and beverages and brush and floss your teeth daily. You should also visit your dentist regularly, so that any signs of a cavity can be caught early.
What happens if I don’t have a cavity filled?
If you leave a cavity untreated, the bacteria can get into the dental pulp, or the soft inner tissue, of the tooth. At this point, the tooth becomes infected. An infected tooth can cause swelling or redness, oral pain and a perpetual bad taste in the mouth.
How long do dental fillings last?
Dental fillings can last for years, depending on the location and size of the filling and oral hygiene habits. Prolong the life of your filling by taking good care of your teeth and seeing Dr. Pearson regularly for check-ups. If you know you grind or clench your teeth at night, getting fitted for a mouth guard can help protect your filling from excessive forces.
Is it painful to get a dental filling?
No. In fact, not filling a cavity can lead to oral pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. The affected area of your mouth is numbed prior to cleaning the tooth and placing the filling material, so you should not feel anything during the treatment.
Contact Us to Learn More
For more information about composite fillings, please contact Essentially Pure Cosmetic & Family Dentistry and request an appointment with our team. You can call or email us today.