Dental fillings are a common treatment for tooth decay or cavities. While dental professionals offer different types of fillings that could address oral health issues, composite fillings in Solana have become a popular option in recent years due to their aesthetic benefits and minimal invasiveness. Whether you plan to fix a cavity or are just curious about this marvel of modern dentistry, we’ve pulled together all the information you need about composite fillings.
A dental filling is a restorative dental procedure that involves the removal of decayed or damaged portions of teeth and filling the space with a single material or combinations of metals, plastics, and glass. While dental fillings are excellent for repairing and restoring the appearance and function of teeth, they can also prevent further decay or damage.
Dentists use several types of dental fillings to fix dental problems. However, the type of filling material they use depends on several factors, including the cavity’s size and location, the patient’s preference, and the dental professional’s recommendation.
Also known as silver fillings, amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals, including silver, copper, tin, and mercury. Moreover, mercury acts as a binder for the other metals, and the resulting mixture is a hard and durable material that can withstand chewing and biting forces. Although amalgam fillings are known for their durability, strength, and affordability, they’ve become less popular due to concerns about the filling material’s mercury toxicity.
Since these fillings are made of gold, copper, and other materials, they can last up to 20 years or more. However, gold fillings are not as aesthetically pleasing as other options. Also, they’re more expensive than other filling materials, and dental insurance doesn’t usually cover them.
Ceramic or porcelain fillings are made of a type of dental ceramic and are often used for larger cavities. Since the dentist can match these fillings to the color of the surrounding teeth, many dental patients use them to fix decayed front teeth. While ceramic fillings are more natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing than other filling materials, they come with a higher price.
Glass ionomer fillings are made up of a combination of acrylic and glass. They release fluoride, which is a mineral that helps prevent further tooth decay. For this reason, glass ionomer fillings are a popular choice for fillings in children’s teeth. In addition, glass ionomer fillings are relatively easy to place and bond well with the tooth structure, providing an effective seal against bacteria.
Composite resin fillings are made of plastic and glass materials and can be color-matched to natural tooth enamel. Since they’re virtually invisible, more and more people use them to fill small to medium-sized cavities.
Additionally, they require minimal tooth structure removal for placement and are used to repair various dental issues because of their versatility. Patients who value aesthetics and minimal invasiveness often choose composite resin fillings.
The plastic material used in composite fillings is typically a resin-based material, such as bisphenol-A-glycidyl methacrylate (BISGMA) or urethane dimethacrylate (UDMA). Furthermore, the glass material is made up of tiny quartz, silica, or borosilicate glass particles.
These materials are combined to form a paste that the dentist can mold to fit the contours of the tooth. It's important to note that these materials are safe because they’ve been approved by regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Unlike silver or gray amalgam fillings, composite fillings look like natural teeth, they’re usually for front teeth where appearance is especially important. In other words, they’re not noticeable when smiling or speaking.
Since composite fillings require less tooth structure to be removed for placement compared to other types of fillings, they preserve more of the natural tooth structure and help maintain the treated tooth’s long-term health.
Did you know that dentists use composite fillings in different scenarios? Due to their versatility, these fillings can fix chipped, broken, or decayed teeth. Dentists also use composite fillings to reshape or rebuild teeth for aesthetic purposes.
While other fillings can weaken the tooth structure over time because they require mechanical retention to hold them in place, composite fillings bond directly to the tooth structure. For this reason, they provide a strong and durable seal that helps prevent further decay. This bonding process helps reinforce the remaining tooth structure, making it less likely to crack or fracture.
Damage or decay can expose a tooth's sensitive inner layers and make it more vulnerable to sensitivity. Composite fillings can help minimize tooth sensitivity because the dentist bonds them directly to the tooth surface, creating a tight seal that helps block out external stimuli that can trigger sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. Since the composite material isn’t a good conductor of heat or cold, it insulates the tooth from temperature changes.
Composite fillings are made of non-toxic materials and don’t contain mercury. For this reason, they’re a safe and healthy option for dental restorations, especially for patients with sensitivities and allergies.
A combination of factors can cause tooth decay and cavities. These factors include bacteria in plaque, consumption of sugary and acidic foods, poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, genetics, and age. If left untreated, this oral health issue can lead to tooth loss.
When decay or cavities damage teeth, composite fillings are often used to restore them. These fillings are an excellent choice because they provide an aesthetically pleasing solution that blends in with the surrounding teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
Misshapen teeth, or teeth that aren’t correctly aligned or shaped, can impact a person’s oral health and overall well-being. Since misshapen teeth are harder to clean, they can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
They can also affect speech when they make it difficult to pronounce certain sounds and words. Painful temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and bite issues, such as overbite or underbite, may also result from having misshapen teeth. Lastly, they can cause self-consciousness and embarrassment, leading to a lack of confidence and social anxiety.
Patients who want to enhance their smile without undergoing a more invasive procedure, such as veneers or crowns, should consider getting composite fillings. You can use these fillings to reshape misshapen teeth or correct minor cosmetic imperfections, they’re also a popular cosmetic dentistry option.
Besides making a smile look a little unusual, gapped teeth can adversely impact your oral health. Gaps between teeth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease when they trap food particles and bacteria. They can also be a sign of misaligned teeth, which can lead to other oral health issues such as malocclusion and jaw pain.
Since composite fillings can be used to fill in gaps or spaces between teeth, they help improve a smile’s overall appearance. This is a popular choice for individuals who have small gaps between their teeth that are not severe enough to require orthodontic treatment.
Trauma, habitual teeth grinding or clenching, age, and weakened teeth can chip or break a tooth. Without prompt treatment, a chipped or broken tooth can reduce confidence, and cause pain, infection, and further damage.
Dentists use composite fillings to repair teeth that are chipped or broken, restoring their natural appearance and function. This is a popular choice for individuals who have sustained minor dental trauma, such as a chipped tooth from biting down on a hard object.
Worn or damaged teeth can result from bruxism, acidic foods and drinks, tooth decay, aging, trauma, aggressive brushing, or acid reflux. Leaving this problem untreated can lead to sensitivity, pain, tooth decay, bite problems, and cosmetic concerns.
Luckily, composite fillings can be used to rebuild teeth that have been worn down or damaged, to restore their strength and function. This is a popular choice for individuals who have experienced dental erosion from acidic foods or drinks, grinding their teeth, or other factors that can cause dental wear and tear.
Before the procedure begins, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth. The anesthetic agents will help minimize pain or discomfort during treatment.
Once the area is numb, the dentist will use a dental drill to eliminate decayed or damaged tooth material. During the process, they’ll leave as much healthy tooth structure intact as possible.
After removing the decayed areas, the dentist will etch the tooth’s surface with an acidic solution to prepare it for the filling. This step creates a rough surface that helps the composite material bond to the tooth.
Next, the dentist will apply the composite material to the tooth in layers, using a special light to harden each layer before adding the next. This process helps build up the filling and ensures that it adheres to the tooth.
Once the filling has been built up to the correct size and shape, the dentist will ensure it fits comfortably and looks natural by using special tools to shape and polish the filling.
Finally, the dentist will check the patient’s bite to ensure that the filling doesn’t interfere with the natural bite and that their teeth come together properly.
Since the procedure for getting composite fillings is relatively quick and painless, the dentist can complete it in a single appointment.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential for maintaining the health of your composite fillings. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily can help prevent tooth decay and damage by eliminating plaque and food debris that can build up around your fillings. Furthermore, regular dental checkups and cleanings ensure that problems are caught early and treated before they become more serious.
Eating hard or sticky foods can put excessive pressure on your composite fillings, potentially causing them to crack or become dislodged. Avoiding foods, such as hard candy, popcorn kernels, and taffy, can help keep your fillings in tip-top shape and prolong their lifespan.
If you grind your teeth at night or participate in contact sports, you’ll want to reduce the risk of damage to your composite fillings by wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard. Besides providing the best protection, this oral appliance ensures a comfortable fit.
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dry mouth. Aside from increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, this oral health issue can cause considerable damage to your composite fillings. It’s best to limit your alcohol consumption and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to keep your teeth healthy and your dental fillings strong.
Regularly inspecting your composite fillings for signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, chips, or discoloration, can help you identify issues early on and prevent further damage. If you notice any changes, you’ll want to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to prevent more serious issues from developing.
Dental sealants are a protective coating that dentists apply to the biting surfaces of the teeth. The sealants help prevent tooth decay and damage to composite fillings. If you’re at a higher risk of developing decay or have had issues with dental fillings in the past, your dentist may recommend dental sealants as an additional layer of protection for your back teeth.
Although composite fillings are made of a durable material that can last for many years, they can still suffer damage over time due to wear and tear or trauma to the tooth.
A cracked or damaged composite filling can cause pain or sensitivity in the affected tooth. In some cases, the damage may be visible, such as a visible crack in the filling or a piece of the filling that falls out of the tooth. In other cases, the damage may not be visible, but you may experience discomfort or sensitivity when chewing or drinking.
If you have a cracked or damaged composite filling, you’ll need to seek immediate attention from a dental professional. Delaying treatment can lead to further damage to the tooth and other serious oral health issues. While waiting for your appointment, you’ll want to do the following steps:
Besides cleaning the affected area, rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can reduce pain and discomfort. It also reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
If you have a temporary filling material at home, try using it to fill the gap until you see your dentist. Temporary filling materials are typically made of a soft, pliable material that can be shaped and molded to fit the gap in your tooth. Furthermore, these materials are available over-the-counter.
Chewing on the side of your mouth with the damaged filling can irritate the tooth and cause further damage to the filling. Unless you’re willing to run the risk of dislodging the damaged filling, it’s best to chew on the opposite side.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and discomfort, and inflammation in the affected area while you wait to see a dental professional.
Call your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an emergency appointment. You’ll need to explain the situation and let them know that you have a damaged or cracked composite filling. Your dentist may be able to see you on the same day or advise you to go to an emergency dental clinic if they’re unavailable.
Once you arrive at the dental office, they’ll evaluate the extent of the damage to the filling and the tooth to determine the best course of treatment based on your specific needs. While minor cases may only involve filling repairs, seriously damaged fillings may require replacements to restore the appearance and function of the affected tooth.
If the filling is repairable, your dentist will remove damaged or loose material and apply a new layer of composite filling material to the tooth. Next, they’ll shape and polish the filling to match neighboring teeth. However, if the filling is irreparable or has caused damage to the tooth structure, your dentist may need to remove the filling entirely and replace it with a new filling or another restoration, such as a dental crown or implant.
At Inspire Smiles, we acknowledge that each person is created uniquely and respect each one’s individuality. We focus on carefully each person’s dental needs and address them in a comprehensive manner within the context of their overall health.
Inspire Smiles is your destination for comprehensive and personalized dental care. Contact us today to make an appointment.