Tooth-Colored Dental Fillings
A filling provides a simple, long-lasting way to restore a tooth damaged by decay. Originally introduced in the 1960s, composite resins are fillings placed in the back teeth to restore decayed areas. Because they are tooth-colored, they can also be used to brighten a stained tooth or reshape a tooth for cosmetic enhancements.
How Is a Filling Placed?
First, your dentist will remove any decayed material in your tooth and will carefully clean the area. This must be done first to ensure the tooth does not continue to decay or become infected. After this, Dr. Barry, Dr. Love, or a skilled assistant will begin filling the empty area with the composite.
The composite is placed in layers and a special light is used to harden each layer. Once in place, your dentist can shape the material to fit the tooth and polish the filling to prevent staining and excessive wear. Fillings close off any cracks to prevent bacteria from re-entering the affected area. Because composite fillings help prevent further decay, they can be extremely beneficial to your oral health.
Are Composite Resins Made of Metal?
Traditionally, dentists used a special metal alloy called “amalgam” and other metals to fill cavities. However, these materials often contained dangerous metals such as mercury. They were also prone to corroding and could actually crack the tooth if the material began to expand.
Composite resins provide a sturdier, safer alternative to alloys. Instead of containing mercury and other metals, composite resins are made of a plastic mixture filled with glass – silicon dioxide. In short, they are made from a combination of plastic resin and powdered glass.
Benefits of using composite resins include:
- Increased strength/durability
- Requires little removal of healthy tooth structure
- Bonds well to enamel
- Can be placed in one session, and
- Allows for easy identification of nearby decay.
How Long Does This Process Take?
It takes about 10 – 20 more minutes to place these fillings than traditional ones. The size and location of the cavity also affect the overall time. Dr. Barry or Dr. Love will be able to give you an estimate upon examining your affected tooth.
How Long Will a Composite Last?
Except in instances of very large restorations, composite fillings can last for up to 10 years. This is approximately the same as traditional mercury and silver fillings. For larger fillings, other, more durable options are available.
If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, call our Columbus dental office at 614-451-2234.