For patients with small areas of tooth decay, chips, cracks, or wear, the Mountain Stream Dental team typically repairs the smile with a filling. Traditionally, dentists used metal amalgam to replace lost tooth structure and protect teeth from additional damage. Today, we will likely use the more natural looking tooth-colored fillings. Both options allow us to restore the shape and strength of a damaged tooth, but there are many benefits to using tooth-colored composite resin that has made this material the preferred restorative solution. In addition to offering ideal restoration results, we can also use tooth-colored composite resin to conceal and correct cosmetic flaws.
Amalgam VS Composite Fillings
Traditionally, minor tooth decay (cavities) or dental wear was repaired using silver-colored amalgam filling materials. While these restorations provided adequate restoration, they did have a number of drawbacks including:
- Unnatural appearance made an obvious impact on appearance
- The amalgam material expands and contracts at a higher rate than tooth structure, and this can damage the tooth or allow bacteria to accumulate between the filling and enamel
- Healthy tooth structure has to be removed in order to create wedges that hold the filling in place
- Patients with allergies or sensitives to metal could experience itching, irritation, or other symptoms following the placement of amalgam fillings
Composite resin addresses all of these concerns, creating a natural looking, long lasting dental restoration. Tooth-colored resin is shaded to blend seamlessly into the smile. While many people think that composite resin is less durable than amalgam, the filling itself may actually be stronger. Because composite seeps into small pits and grooves in teeth, it creates a solid bond that actually strengthens remaining tooth structure. Additionally, the tooth-colored filling material expands and contracts at a rate much closer to natural tooth structure, and it is less likely to break away from the tooth or create further damage. Finally, the completely metal-free restoration is safe and effective for patients with metal allergies.
The Composite Resin Filling Process
Tooth-colored fillings can be placed in just one appointment. In fact, we often place these fillings on the same day we discover your cavity or tooth damage. We begin by numbing the area around the damaged tooth. Then, we may remove weakened or damaged areas to ensure the filling is positioned against healthy tooth structure. An acidic, etchant material covers the area where the filling is placed to create additional pits and grooves in the tooth enamel. This means a stronger bond between the tooth and filling. Next, the putty-like composite resin is applied directly to the prepared surface of the tooth, and it works its way into even the tiniest dental crevices. The skilled dentist will shape the material into position to replace lost tooth structure. Then, a low-heat curing light is used to harden the resin into place. Finally, we polish and smooth the filling, leaving you with a flawless smile.