The materials used to restore a tooth with a cavity to natural shape and function have evolved considerably in the past few decades. Metals like gold and silver were once commonly used to fill teeth with cavities. Nowadays, in a world that places a high value on a white, bright smile, tooth-colored composite is the material of choice to repair decayed teeth while blending in with the rest of the teeth.
As a prosthodontist, Dr. Ashwini Bhave is passionate about designing and placing dental restorations that look, feel and function like natural, healthy teeth. When you meet with her to discuss filling a tooth or replacing an older filling, she thoroughly explains the advantages and drawbacks of composite fillings. This information empowers you to make informed decisions about your care.
What Is a Composite Filling?
Composite fillings are tooth-colored fillings made from plastic resin and a filler of finely ground glass particles. They provide the necessary level of protection to teeth with decay, and are strong and durable.
However, composite fillings are not recommended in every case. If a cavity is very large or located in an area of the mouth that is subject to considerable pressure when biting and chewing (i.e., the back molars), other treatment options may be explored.
Tooth-colored fillings can be placed in one dental appointment. The exact shade of composite resin is carefully selected to match the natural shade of the tooth being restored.
First, Dr. Bhave prepares your tooth for the composite filling by removing the decayed portion of tooth material. This leaves a space to be filled with the composite resin material. She applies a special bonding agent to the tooth to help ensure a strong bond between tooth and filling material. A curing light helps to set the bonding liquid.
Next, Dr. Bhave applies the composite material layer by layer to fill the prepared area of your tooth. She carefully sculpts the composite resin to match the contours of the tooth surface, and uses the curing light to harden each layer of the shaped composite. The shape of the filling needs to be just right to support a proper bite.
When Dr. Bhave is happy with her work, she polishes the filling to give it a light sheen that resembles natural tooth enamel.
Caring for Your New Filling
Fillings do not require any special care above and beyond what you would do for a natural tooth. In order to prevent more cavities, you should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. You should also avoid biting down on anything very hard (i.e., shells or ice) that could damage your filling or natural teeth. With the proper care, your composite filling can last for many years.
Learn More About Tooth-Colored Fillings
Are you wondering which type of filling is right for you, and whether you could benefit from tooth-colored fillings? The first step is to consult with an experienced prosthodontist like Dr. Bhave, who can explain more about the benefits of each type of filling. Please request an appointment with Dr. Bhave by calling or emailing our office today.