Regardless of how well you take care of your teeth, you may need to get a filling at some point in your life. Tooth decay is pretty commonplace, and fillings are one of the most common fixes.
For more than a century, dentists have been using silver amalgam (a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, zinc, and copper) in tooth fillings. As concerns increase over the use of amalgam, composite fillings continue to become more and more common.
Amalgam fillings are silver, which means they can stand out in your mouth. Composite fillings are tooth-colored, blend in well with teeth, and can be applied at a reasonable price in one sitting. Our team at Vellore Woods is here to answer any questions you may have about composite fillings.
What are composite fillings?
Composite fillings – otherwise known as white, or plastic fillings – are made out of a composite resin made from a combination of plastic and glass compounds. They can be coloured to match the tooth that is being filled, which is a particular benefit of composite fillings. Dentists apply the resin as a paste and shape the paste into the cavity that’s being filled. It dries in layers and is a relatively straightforward process.
Do you need a dental filling?
Your dentist will decide if you need a filling. If they spot signs of significant tooth decay, such as a cavity, or if one of your teeth is cracked or broken, you’ll most likely need a filling.
Tooth decay occurs when plaque builds up for too long on your teeth. The plaque feeds off sugars in your diet and produces acid that further erodes tooth structure. Decay breaks through the outer layer of enamel, leaving sensitive parts of your teeth exposed. This can be extremely painful and contribute to further decay if left untreated, often requiring root canal procedure. Fillings protect the tooth’s structure and allow it to return to its normal function.
There are two types of fillings: direct and indirect. Indirect fillings include crowns and caps that are made in a lab to fit your tooth and take several appointments to finish. Composites are a type of direct filling. These go directly into the cavity after the decay has been cleared out and harden quickly enough that you only need one appointment.
Are composite fillings right for you?
There are two main factors that will help you make the right decision on whether a composite filling is right for you. The first one is budget. If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative to porcelain fillings, you’ve come to the right place.
Ideally, people want fillings that are discrete enough that they won’t stand out; however, using porcelain can be quite expensive. A composite filling then is a much more reasonably priced option.
The other determinant is the area of your mouth that the filling will go. Dentists recommend not using this type of filling for your back teeth. These teeth bite down hard, which often requires a more durable filling than the composite compound.
How does it work?
First, the dentist will administer a local anaesthetic to ensure patients experience no pain. To place a composite, your dentist will clear out the decay and then paste a bonding glue. Once the glue is set, the composite is then put in the hole in thin layers, which hardens under a specialized light. The dentist then shapes the composite to fit your tooth, so it looks natural and then polishes it to prevent any wear and tear.
Advantages of Composites
The obvious benefit of composite fillings is aesthetics. People like the way they look because they are closer to the natural colour of a tooth, so it isn’t obvious that you have had any major work done. This can give great comfort to patients worried about how their teeth will look.
Aesthetics aside, composites bond directly to the tooth, which provides further support to your weakened tooth, and also means the procedure can be carried out in one sitting. There is also no mercury in the compound, which reduces the presence of toxicity and therefore reduces the risk of further decay.
Disadvantages of Composites
As alluded to earlier, composites are not the most durable option and are less hard-wearing than amalgam. They tend to break down more quickly than other materials because of the plastic in the compound.
There is also a risk decay that can return, partly due to this tendency to break. Also, the composite shrinks as it hardens, which can leave a gap between the resin and the cavity. So, while you may only have one trip to the dentist to fit your filling, you may have to come back again in the future.
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For more information on our services or want to talk to us about composite fillings, give us a call today!