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Composite Fillings


Tooth colored fillings, also called white fillings or bonding are dental fillings that restore and mimic the natural appearance of tooth structure. In addition to restoring teeth that have fractured or decayed, tooth colored fillings may also be used cosmetically to change the size, color and shape of teeth. This quality is particularly useful in closing gaps between teeth; repairing chipped teeth and making teeth appear to be more straight or even.

Before and After: tooth colored composite resin may also be used cosmetically as it closely matches natural tooth color and appearance. It is used to fix a chipped front tooth shown in the adjacent photos.


What are the advantages of Composite fillings?


  • They closely match natural tooth color and appearance.

  • They bond to tooth structure chemically and often do not require the placement of slots, grooves or pins in healthy tooth structure to mechanically retain them.

  • The bonding of white fillings to the tooth restore 85% – 95% of the original strength of the tooth.

  • They completely harden in seconds instead of days required by some other materials.

  • Tooth sensitivity, if any, due to composite resin use is normally minimal and brief.

  • They may be used on front and back teeth without compromising esthetics.

  • If damaged they can be repaired.


What are the disadvantages of Composite fillings?


  • Frequent and/or prolonged exposure to dark liquids (coffee, tea, red wine) and foods with rich dyes (curries, etc.) may stain them.

  • They are not as strong as metal fillings.

  • Frequent and/or prolonged exposure to liquids with a high alcohol content may degrade them.

  • They are more expensive than dental amalgam fillings.

  • Dental insurance companies frequently impose a surcharge, payable by the patient, for placement of white fillings instead of dental amalgam, especially for back teeth.

How are composite resin fillings placed?


Tooth colored composite fillings are chemically bonded to teeth. For this reason, the placement of white fillings does not always require numbing the area being restored. Numbing (anesthetizing) the area is often required if tooth decay has progressed beneath the enamel layer and into the underlying dentin layer which surrounds the nerve of the tooth.


Once decay is removed, a bonding agent is flowed onto the tooth and then the filling material is placed inside the tooth.  After shaping the tooth colored filling material to resemble the natural anatomy of your tooth it is hardened by curing with a strong curing light. Once the white filling hardens, your bite will be checked to make sure your teeth fit together properly.


If the tooth filling extends into the space between your teeth your dentist will also make sure you can floss between your teeth properly. Adjustments will be made if necessary followed by smoothing and polishing of your new filling.



Composite vs Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam Filling


What Is A Cavity? & Why Did You Get One?


Cavities, as their name implies, are essentially holes in your teeth caused by decay. You can sometimes spot a cavity, as the area surrounding the hole generally looks dark brown or gray. 

The main culprits to blame for your cavity are certain types of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are contained in plaque and they interact with the carbohydrates and sugars in your food creating an acidic environment that dissolves the protective enamel on the outer layer of your tooth. Once the acid succeeds in eroding the enamel, your tooth is exposed, leaving just the softer dentin layer, which will ultimately cause the formation of a cavity. At this point the decay process rapidly speeds up and spreads deeper into the tooth or to other teeth.  Decay is a bacterial infection that can be spread to and from other people.

Why Do I Need A Filling?


A filling is necessary to treat your cavity because if left untreated the decay will grow and will enter into your nerve canal. And yes, this can be as painful as it sounds. It can also lead to more serious problems such as infection or abscess.

A filling may also be needed to replace or repair an old worn down existing filling or to fix a chipped tooth.

In addition to potential pain and discomfort and possible tooth loss, if you wait to have your cavity filled it may end up requiring a more difficult process, such as a root canal, to save your tooth. And it could also cost you a lot more money to fix. The bottom line is you should get your cavity filled as soon as you can. 


Amalgam (Silver) Fillings


Amalgam is a silver metallic filling that is used mainly to fill cavities in the back teeth. It is one of the most commonly used filling materials since it is very strong and lasts a long time. Amalgam is made out of a combination of metals such as silver, mercury, copper and tin. 

Once the tooth has been filled the filling is checked to insure the proper alignment and shape. At this point any necessary adjustments are made to ensure proper functionality. Following the filling you should avoid biting or chewing on the filling for at least 24 hours until it completely hardens.


New Filling Expectations


Following the filling procedure you may experience some discomfort, normally at the site of the anesthetic or at the tooth itself. To alleviate the discomfort you can follow your dentist's recommendation on taking an over the counter pain medication. In addition, you may experience sensitivity to cold foods and drinks.  This sensitivity should resolve in a short period of time, but if your symptoms persist then you should contact the office.

In some cases the decay could be quite deep and close to the nerve of the tooth. In these instances the nerve could already be infected with bacteria. Even though a filling has been placed, there is still a good chance that the tooth may need to go under root canal therapy to relieve the discomfort.

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