What are Composite Fillings?
Composite fillings are tooth colored fillings that are used to replace tooth structure lost from cavities (dental caries) and from tooth fracture or erosion (wear of the tooth structure). Composite fillings are more time intensive than silver fillings (amalgams) and thus are often more expensive than silver fillings. A composite filling is a technique sensitive material and must be placed in small increments and cured properly. The bonding technique and isolation of the filling from moisture is also very critical to its success.
Composite fillings can be very esthetic. They are also an acceptable, less expensive and more conservative alternative to all porcelain crowns, porcelain veneers and porcelain inlays when the restoration needed is smaller in size compared to the amount of tooth remaining.
Tooth Decay Causes Cavities
Tooth decay and periodontal disease are by far the most common dental concerns experienced by patients of Deer Park Dental. While semi-annual professional cleanings and check ups can make great strides toward protecting the health of your smile – tooth decay is often caused by neglect at home or improper diet. When left unaddressed, tooth decay will grow, causing cavities to form in the teeth. It is very important to fill any decayed spaces in your teeth in order to prevent your tooth decay from spreading. Prevention is always the goal, however, for those patients who have already developed tooth decay Deer Park Dental offers beautiful, effective solutions to restore your smile.
Millions of Americans suffer from tooth decay, including new decay, on an annual basis. In fact, many people do not realize they have decayed teeth until they visit the dentist’s office for an examination. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth, that when left to grow, can cause the deterioration of tooth enamel.
Whenever you eat, tiny food particles are left behind in your mouth, including in tight places such as in between teeth and along the gum line. If you have eaten foods that are heavy in sugars and carbohydrates, these food particles foster the growth of bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Also some foods are more acidic than others, which can cause an increased breakdown of the enamel and root structure. In order to prevent decay, it is important to remove these particles of food and these bacteria through brushing and flossing at least twice a day. It is preferable to brush and floss after every meal. If larger gaps are present between the teeth due to recession and or bone loss, there are other special interdental brushes, of many sizes and shapes that can be used to help you reach these difficult areas and help prevent tooth decay.
Toothache sign of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay can easily occur without symptoms. While many patients only visit the dentist with a toothache or when tooth sensitivity occur, the early signs of enamel erosion and tooth decay often present without indication. Your dentist has special training to visually identify decay in the teeth. Additionally, tools such as dental x-rays can help your dentist locate sites of decay before they appear on the surface.
Signs you may notice that indicate the presence of tooth decay include:
- pain in the teeth or jaw
- sensitivity to cold foods, beverages, or sweet foods.
Composite Fillings can fix Chipped, Stained and Broken Teeth
Composite resin fillings can be used to restore a broken corner or edge of a front tooth.
- They can be used for cavities at the gumline, root area of the tooth in conjunction with a material called glass ionomers. Glass ionomers have a longer bond to the root area and can be used to extend the life of a resin filling by placing it first for a stronger bond and then overlaying it with a composite resin filling. This not only makes it last longer but gives a better esthetics, allowing the cavity to almost disappear and look as if the enamel extends to the gumline.
Composite resin fillings help to restore erosion areas at the gumline and biting surfaces of the teeth.
- Toothbrush abrasion, abfraction and acid erosion can break down the tooth. Composite fillings can restore the tooth to the original contour and prevent further breakdown of the tooth.
Composite fillings can be used to reshape a slightly rotated or tipped tooth.
- If severe rotation of the tooth is present then a discussion of orthodontics may be in order. Gaps in the teeth from recession can also be filled in beautifully with a combination of glass ionomer and resin bonding. The whole surface of the tooth can also be bonded to create a brighter and more beautiful smile. This also can be a less expensive and less aggressive approach to these problems than doing porcelain veneers or crowns.
Tooth Filling Procedure
The composite filling treatment is a relatively quick and is a painless procedure. Your mouth will be completely numbed by your dentist to ensure you do not feel any pain or discomfort. Your dentist will remove any decayed tooth material and fill the space left behind with a composite resin. Once that is completed a protective barrier is placed over the teeth to keep moisture out of the tooth and filling. By doing so this increases the overall longevity of the composite filling. A precise etching and bonding technique is performed, which allows the filling to cure completely and decreases the stress of the filling on the tooth. Your dentist will adjust and polish the resin so that your teeth are ready to use immediately upon leaving our office – however we do recommend waiting to chew or eat until after your anesthesia has worn off.
Tooth Fillings Before and After
Patient was displeased with the appearance of her lower front teeth. Her roots were eroding and darkening. Patient did teeth whitening and in one visit, we crafted composite veneers to correct alignment, repair the erosion, and fill in spaces.
Composite Fillings vs Amalgam Fillings
Composite fillings are a great solution for restoring your smile because they are strong and can be made to match the color of your existing tooth. The metal amalgam fillings of the past were silver in color and though they can last a very long time, through expansion and contraction, they cause cracks in the teeth that can lead to fracturing or splitting teeth in the future. This could cause more damage to your smile over time. New versions of composite fillings are made of a strong resin material that can withstand chewing and use much like your natural tooth enamel can. Additionally, composite fillings can withstand changes in temperature and other factors over time. This means they will never cause your healthy tooth structure to crack or discolor over time – as metal fillings can.
"My experience was very good. I had 4 teeth filled. I am always scared of dentists but Dr. Janice and her assistant made me feel relaxed."
Is Teeth Whitening Necessary for Composite Fillings?
If the teeth are dark or stained then tooth bleaching may be recommended. This allows the teeth to be lighter and brighter before bonding with composite resin. The lighter teeth are then matched with a lighter composite to give an even more beautiful and natural smile. If old fillings and crowns are present, sometimes these will need to be replaced to complete a beautiful brighter smile.