Almost everyone gets a cavity that requires a dental filling at some point. If you have a cavity in one of your teeth, your dentist will likely recommend that you receive a filling as soon as possible to prevent infection and strengthen your teeth. While brushing regularly and avoiding sugar are the greatest ways to prevent dental decay, once it has begun, the damage is irreversible. The best we can hope for is to fix the hole in the tooth and improve our oral hygiene.
Dental restorations can be made out of a variety of materials, but the most common fillings are amalgam and composite fillings, also known as composite resin. For many years, amalgam was the most popular filling material, however, composite fillings are gaining favor due to their combination of aesthetics and durability.
Wear, cracking, or chipping of existing fillings may necessitate their replacement. Many people take advantage of this opportunity to get tooth-colored composite fillings in place of silver amalgam fillings. Their motivations could be aesthetic or fear of mercury-containing amalgam fillings. If you live in the city of La Puente and require composite fillings, please contact La Puente Advanced Dentistry to talk with one of our highly skilled dentists and schedule an appointment.
What are Composite Fillings?
During a check-up, your dentist will examine your teeth for cavities. Cavities form when germs eat away at the enamel that surrounds your tooth, and if it is left untreated, they can spread to the pulp, causing infection and major health hazards. Unfortunately, enamel does not regrow, so once a hole has been developed, the only option is to fix it. This is where the term "fillings" comes from.
A tooth with cracks, rot, or fractures is repaired with a composite (tooth-colored) filling. One of the most popular dental procedures is composite filling. It's essentially a restorative procedure to heal the damage caused by tooth decay. The tooth's impacted area will be removed, and a composite filler will be used in its place. It is usually a painless process that takes around an hour to complete.
There are a variety of filler materials available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Your dentist and you can talk about the best alternatives for repairing your teeth. Composite fillings are the most popular today, along with silver amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are more aesthetically suitable for usage in front teeth or more exposed portions of the teeth since they are tooth-colored and can be carefully matched to the color of existing teeth.
Composite fillings, like most dental restorations, are not permanent and may need to be replaced at some point. But they are extremely long-lasting and will provide you with a gorgeous smile for many years.
When Do You Need Composite Filling?
One of the most common and effective dental procedures is fillings. It is, nevertheless, critical to recognize when they are required. Here are some warning indicators to keep an eye out for:
If you have a severe toothache or a searing pain in your mouth
If your teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks
If you have a cracked, broken, or chipped tooth
If you have noticed a dark hole or spot in a tooth
If you have lost or broken an existing filling
Sensitivity to sugary foods and drinks
Make an appointment with your dentist if you suspect you have a cavity. They can tell you if you need a filling or some other treatment.
Types of Fillings
The various materials that can be used to fill your cavity will be discussed with your dentist. The following materials are some of the most popular choices:
Gold Fillings — This alloy of gold, copper, and other metals is extremely durable, but it is also more costly. They also don't appear to be natural. After your dentist takes an impression of your tooth, gold fillings are usually produced in a lab. They are long-lasting and can last up to 20 years. They normally necessitate two visits.
Silver-color fillings — Metal amalgams are amalgams made up of silver, tin, mercury, and copper. This substance is more durable than tooth-colored fillings, and it is often less expensive. Some people may be concerned about the mercury level, but despite the fact that amalgam fillings are being phased out, scientists have found no clinical evidence that they are dangerous.
Glass ionomer fillings — These are tooth-colored as well, although they are not as robust as composites. They're constructed of acrylic and fluoride-containing glass that can help prevent cavities. They are more expensive than amalgams and are frequently utilized for children's teeth.
White tooth-colored fillings — Glass or quartz particles are mixed with acrylic resin to make these. This substance is more expensive than metal amalgams, but it is more durable.
Porcelain fillings — These look natural and cost roughly the same as gold fillings. After the dentist takes an impression of your tooth, they are created in a lab.
The Procedure of Getting Composite Fillings
Fillings are usually a straightforward procedure. To begin, your dentist will inspect your mouth and check for cavities with dental instruments. To determine the level of tooth decay, they may take an X-ray of the tooth.
A local anesthetic will be used to numb the tooth region. This will aid in the prevention of any pain. If the filling is only on the surface of the tooth, you may not need anesthesia. After the region has been numbed, your dentist will most likely use a dental drill to remove the deterioration from the tooth enamel. A laser or an air abrasion tool may be used by some dentists, but these are less popular.
The hole will then be filled after your dentist sterilizes and prepares the region for the composite filling. A blue wavelength light is used to cure or harden some composite fillings. Finally, your dentist will polish the tooth and examine your bite to ensure that it is in proper working order.
Following the composite filling, your tooth may feel a little sore or sensitive once the numbness has worn off, but you should not experience any discomfort. You should avoid extremely cold or hot liquids and foods for a day or two, but you can eat normally after that.
The Healing Process After Composite Fillings
The majority of composite fillings heal without a hitch. Your tooth may feel a little sensitive when the anesthetic wears off, but this normally passes in a day or two. Tooth sensitivity can be reduced by:
- Avoiding cold or hot drinks and food
- For a few days, chew on the opposite side of your mouth
- Avoiding acidic foods
- Brush and floss around the fillings more lightly than normal
- Using a desensitizing toothpaste
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
If your bite feels off, or if you have any long-term discomfort or pain, tell your dentist. To enhance your bite, your dentist may need to alter the filling surface.
How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?
While composite fillings are not as robust as amalgam fillings, they can nevertheless last for many years. Many composite fillings have a 5-year lifespan. In many cases, they can live up to ten years or longer. However, there are a number of factors that can influence the longevity of your composite fillings. These elements include:
- The place where the filler is placed. The back of your mouth has higher biting and chewing stresses. Composite fillings are relatively strong, but if placed in your molars, they may wear out more quickly.
- If you are a bruxism sufferer. Bruxism is a condition in which your teeth are ground and clenched. Excessive pressure is applied to your teeth as a result of these acts. As a result, an amalgam filling may deteriorate more quickly.
- The size of the filling. Smaller fillings usually last longer since they are less prone to cause problems.
- What you eat and drink are important factors. Enamel erosion can be exacerbated by sugary or acidic foods and beverages. This can put your composite fillings at risk of developing complications.
- Composite fillings are placed using dental methods. It's critical to install your composite fillings correctly if you want them to last. To avoid moisture and bacteria from contaminating the treatment region, the afflicted tooth must be thoroughly cleaned and dried.
- Your dental hygiene practices. For the health of your teeth and the longevity of your fillings, you must practice good dental hygiene. If you don't take care of your teeth, additional decay can build around your filling, putting it at risk. Furthermore, poor dental hygiene raises your chances of acquiring cavities in other teeth.
The Benefits of Composite Fillings
The fundamental advantage of composite fillings over older materials like amalgam is that they mimic tooth tissue better. Composite fillings come in a variety of tooth hues, making tooth restoration nearly unnoticeable. Composite fillings can be custom-colored to match the color of your natural teeth.
A composite filling, as opposed to other materials like silver amalgam, can fulfill a variety of useful functions. Your composite filling will closely attach to your existing tooth structure because it is constructed of an easily moldable resin. Because of the tight bond, this form of filling protects your sensitive underlying tooth more than metal fillings.
Composite fillings are frequently the first choice for repairing damaged regions in prominent and noticeable teeth, like chips in your front canines or teeth, because they are tooth-colored. Composite fillings are also more pliable than metal fillings, allowing them to be used for a wider range of dental restorations, such as chipping, cavities, and fissures.
If the underlying tooth is sensitive, composite fillings are a preferable alternative when it comes to cavities. Because composite fillings fit into a smaller hole, they don't require as much tooth material to be extracted when excavating the decayed matter.
Because composite fillings are bonded to the teeth, unlike amalgam fillings, there is no need for your dentist to build retentive features that would cause your healthy tooth to be destroyed. Composite materials are bonded to your tooth, unlike amalgam, which just fills a hole in your tooth and relies on the geometry of the cavity to keep the filling in place. Your dentist may need to drill off a large quantity of healthy tooth material to acquire the requisite geometry to keep an amalgam filling in place. Because a composite filling adheres to your teeth, the shape of the hole is less significant with a composite repair. As a result, less of your healthy tooth must be removed in order to place a composite filling.
Potential Risks and Complications
Composite filling issues are infrequent, but any dental procedure carries the risk of complications, which can be significant in some circumstances. During the treatment or your rehabilitation, complications may arise. The following are some of the risks and issues associated with composite fillings:
- The filling develops a cavity around it
- Injury to the mouth
- Anesthetic complications, such as allergic reaction and nerve or blood vessel injury
- Expansion and shrinkage of the filling, which can damage the filling and the tooth
- More comprehensive operations are required, especially if the cavity is large. If a lot of tooth structure is removed or the nerve is exposed, this can happen. If too much tooth structure is lost, a crown may be required. If the deterioration has progressed to the nerve, a root canal or extraction may be required
Sensitivity to heat and cold in the affected tooth
- Possible damage to other teeth during the filling procedure
Reducing your Risk of Complications
You can lower your chance of certain issues by doing the following:
- Before and after your filling surgery, follow the activity, lifestyle, and dietary restrictions and guidelines. Oral health prevention techniques, such as regular oral hygiene, are included
- Notifying your dentist right away if you have any post-procedure problems, like pain, trouble chewing, or a fever.
- If you're breastfeeding or think you might be pregnant, tell your dentist
- If you have any allergies, make sure everyone on your care team is aware of them, especially if your dentist uses metal fillings.
- Taking your meds as prescribed
Cost of Composite Fillings
Because composite fillings involve a more advanced technique, very expensive materials, and more office equipment, they are usually more expensive than typical amalgam fillings. Traditional amalgam materials are replaced by composite materials, which are more aesthetically pleasing. As a result, patients who have had amalgam fillings in the past frequently go back to their dentist to have them replaced with composite fillings.
The price of dental fillings is determined by several factors, including:
- The location or place where it is performed
- The number of teeth that require filling. For instance, one tooth may be damaged or decayed in only one place, whereas another tooth may be damaged or decayed on one or more surfaces
- The dentist that will carry out the treatment
- The kind of dental coverage you have. As previously stated, dental insurance usually does not cover the increased costs of composite
Amalgam fillings are meant to last about 12 years on average, whereas composite fillings will last 5 to 7 years. This, of course, is contingent on your individual circumstances, the level of care you provide to your oral hygiene, and your dedication to regular dental visits. Composite fillings have the advantage of being the same color as tooth enamel. They're especially popular for front teeth and other highly exposed areas.
The cost of amalgam fillings ranges from $110 to $275 each filling, but the cost of resin-based composite fillings varies from $135 to $325 per filling, depending on the number of tooth surfaces on which the material is put. Because the resin composite material is not as long-lasting as metal, it must be replaced every five years. They can, however, endure up to 10 or 15 years if properly maintained.
Recovery and Aftercare
After the cavity has been filled, your dentist will discuss how you can prevent decay from developing beneath or around the filling, as well as in adjacent teeth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing once a day with dental floss or an interdental cleaner is recommended. Schedule regular check-ups and dental cleanings with your dentist and hygienist.
Depending on your risk for caries, your dentist may additionally recommend sealants to cover your molars to prevent plaque and decay from forming, as well as the use of fluoride mouth rinses as an additional preventive strategy. Make sure your water is fluoridated where you live. If not, use a fluoride rinse or toothpaste to ensure that your teeth are protected.
Also, because diet and nutrition have an impact on dental health, it will be crucial to eat a well-balanced diet and restrict sugary drinks and foods, as well as between-meal snacking.
Find a La Puente Dentist Near Me
Getting composite fillings is getting more and more popular. These fillings allow you to have the fillings you need in your front teeth without the unsightly appearance that dark fillings provide. Composite fillings are a fantastic option most of the time. They are not, however, perfect for everyone. We at La Puente Advanced Dentistry are ready to evaluate if you are fit for composite fillings. Get in touch with us today at 626-626-7075.