Dental fillings are a common treatment used to repair cavities, cracks, or other damage to teeth. For many years, silver or metal amalgam fillings were the most common type of filling used by dentists. However, the gray color of these fillings can be noticeable, especially when used on front teeth, and some people may be concerned about the potential health risks associated with the use of mercury in amalgam fillings. In recent years, composite resin fillings have become a popular alternative to amalgam fillings, offering a more natural-looking appearance and a safer, metal-free option for those with sensitivities.
What is a Composite Resin?
Composite fillings are made of a tooth-colored resin material that can be molded to fit the shape of a tooth and hardened with a special curing light. The material is made from a mixture of plastic and ceramic, making it safe and durable. Because the color of the material can be matched to the natural shade of a patient’s teeth, composite fillings provide a more aesthetically pleasing option for restoring damaged teeth.
Advantages of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings offer several advantages over traditional amalgam fillings. First, they provide a more natural appearance, making them a popular choice for front teeth or other visible areas of the mouth. Additionally, they do not contain mercury or other metals, making them a safer option for those with metal sensitivities or concerns about the potential health risks associated with amalgam fillings.
Composite fillings are also a more conservative option than traditional fillings. With amalgam fillings, more tooth structure must be removed to create a stable foundation for the filling material. However, composite fillings require less removal of healthy tooth structure, helping to preserve the strength and integrity of the tooth.
Finally, composite fillings are less likely to expand or contract with temperature changes, which can cause damage to the tooth over time. This makes composite fillings a more durable and long-lasting option than amalgam fillings.
Uses of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings can be used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay, cracks, or other types of trauma. They are also a popular choice for cosmetic bonding, which can be used to repair chips, cracks, or gaps between teeth. Cosmetic bonding can be completed in a single visit to the dentist’s office, making it a convenient and affordable option for improving the appearance of teeth.
Composite fillings can be used on most teeth, including molars and back teeth. However, in some cases, amalgam fillings may still be the preferred choice for large fillings or areas with heavy biting force.
Procedure for Composite Fillings
The procedure for placing a composite filling is similar to that for an amalgam filling. First, the dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic to ensure the patient is comfortable during the procedure. Then, any decay or damaged tooth structure will be removed, and the tooth will be prepared for the filling material.
The composite resin material is then placed in the prepared area and shaped to fit the contours of the tooth. A special curing light is used to harden the material, which is then polished to create a smooth, natural-looking surface.
Caring for Composite Fillings
Composite fillings require the same level of care as natural teeth. Patients should brush and floss regularly and visit their dentist for routine cleanings and checkups to ensure the filling remains in good condition. Composite fillings can be more prone to staining than natural teeth, so patients should avoid consuming dark-colored foods and drinks, such as coffee or red wine, or use a straw when drinking to minimize contact with the teeth.
If you need a tooth repair or filling, white composite fillings or bonding may be the right treatment for you. To learn more about cosmetic fillings and bonding treatments, contact us at Envision Dental. We offer many advanced cosmetic services to help you achieve a beautiful smile.