Dental fillings are a treatment for cavities in which the dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill the area to structurally repair it. In some cases dental fillings can also be used to fix teeth that have been worn down (through bruxism or teeth grinding or chewing things like nails, plastic and ice). Advancements in dental technology have made it possible for the filling material to closely match the color of the existing tooth, making for a natural looking tooth. Tooth-colored fillings (also referred to as composite fillings) are especially useful for highly visible areas of a smile, such as the front teeth.
Tooth-colored fillings are made of a composite resin (powdered glass and plastic resin) that chemically bonds to the tooth structure as it hardens in place, which means it actually enhances support to the tooth. When applying tooth-colored fillings, our skilled dentists first clear the area of any decay and bacteria so that the cavity is clear and ready to be filled. After each layer is placed and hardens, the filling can be shaped and polished so it blends in neatly with the surrounding area. This step of the procedure requires a capable and practiced dentist, such as the experts at our practice.
One of the biggest disadvantages of other types of fillings is that being metallic, they are very noticeable. This makes them unsuitable for use in the front of the mouth. In addition, amalgam fillings may end up discoloring the teeth they are bonded to, adding a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth area. Tooth-colored fillings may require less damage to the existing tooth than other types of fillings, as well, as amalgam fillings may require more room and thus the removal of some healthy parts of the tooth. Tooth-colored fillings, while still durable, will likely not last as long as amalgam fillings, however many find that the benefits outweigh this particular drawback.
It’s important to still care for teeth that have tooth-colored fillings as you would any other tooth, including regular brushing and flossing to keep it healthy. Proper care is one of the best ways to ensure your tooth-colored filling lasts as long as possible. Avoid stressing the filling by chewing hard materials like plastic and ice, and take proper precautions to keep from grinding your teeth at night.
Schedule an appointment at our office to learn more about composite fillings and if they are right for you.