Cavities happen to nearly everyone, and when they do, it’s reassuring to know the team at La Jolla Family Smile Design is here to repair the damage and restore your tooth to its normal function and appearance. The process to do so usually requires one visit to our dental practice.
Our priority is, first and foremost, the health and strength of the affected tooth; luckily, modern dental materials are also attractive, so we can repair the damage and help the affected tooth look totally natural, as if it never developed a cavity. If you are concerned about how your filling will look, we can use tooth-colored filling material that resembles natural tooth structure.
What Is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a restoration that literally fills the space left over after decayed or damaged tooth material has been removed. Fillings restore a normal shape and appearance to the tooth and strengthen the tooth so it can chew and bite properly.
Dental fillings are most commonly used to repair teeth with cavities. However, they can also be used to repair teeth that have developed small chips or cracks, or teeth that have worn down due to chronic grinding or clenching.
Types of Tooth Fillings
Options of tooth filling materials used to be quite limited. Conspicuous metal materials like gold or silver were very popular, but they stood out noticeably in the mouth and would expand and contract, weakening the tooth over time. As materials have evolved, our dentists are now able to offer tooth-colored materials like composite resin. Composite resin is made from plastic resin and a filler of finely ground glass particles. Strong and attractive, composite resin fillings are a great option to restore teeth that show when smiling. (Note that other filling types may be employed in cases of large cavities or cavities in areas of the mouth subject to a lot of pressure when biting or chewing.)
Benefits of Tooth Colored Fillings
Fillings are the most effective way to stop a tooth with a cavity from decaying further. Cavities that are left untreated gradually become larger. Eventually, tooth infection may warrant a root canal or, in the worst cases, tooth extraction. Both of these solutions are much more painful and expensive than a filling.
The truth is that even great brushers and flossers are liable to develop a cavity or two at some point in their lives. Getting a filling as soon as a cavity is discovered is wise since it helps to maintain your oral health. Since choosing a silver amalgam filling means having glimmering metal in your mouth, a composite filling is a great cosmetic solution to keep your smile uniformly white.
Tooth-Colored Filling Placement Details
The process of placing a tooth-colored filling is relatively quick and we will ensure it is a comfortable experience for you. The affected area of your mouth will be numbed so you do not feel any pain.
The first step is for one of our dentists to remove the damaged portion of tooth enamel. Next, the dentist will clean the tooth and prepare it for the filling material. Then, the dentist will fill the leftover space with composite resin material, shaping it to match the natural tooth shape. A special light is used to harden the filling material. We finish by smoothing out any rough edges and polishing the entire tooth.
How to Ensure Best Results
The tooth with the filling may be slightly sensitive as the numbing medicine wears off. If you have discomfort, we recommend eating soft foods for a few days. We also encourage you to be diligent about at-home oral care to prevent future cavities. Brushing and flossing are critical to avoid dental decay.
Tooth Colored Fillings Costs
Fillings are covered, at least in part, by most dental insurance plans. Our team can help you review your individual policy to determine what benefits you are entitled to. If you do not have insurance, you may want to consider joining the La Jolla Family Smile Design Membership Plan, which covers most standard dental care and offers discounts on procedures like fillings. Our goal is to help you limit your out-of-pocket costs so that you receive the care you need.
Learn More About Tooth-Colored Fillings
If you are interested in more information about tooth-colored fillings and the other restorative options available at our practice, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team. Please call 858-454-3044 or email us today to request an appointment.
Tooth-Colored Fillings FAQs
How long do tooth-colored fillings last?
Most composite fillings last between seven and 10 years before needing replacement. To extend the lifespan of your fillings, you should practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing each day. By avoiding crunching on hard foods and objects (like pens or your nails), you can also avoid cracking your fillings.
Are tooth-colored fillings as good as silver amalgam fillings?
In the past, resin-based fillings could not compare to metallic fillings. However, thanks to advancements in dental materials and technology, tooth-colored fillings now have comparable durability to traditional fillings. Because they are so much more aesthetically pleasing than silver fillings, these resin fillings are now the preferred option for most dentists and patients.
Will my tooth hurt after receiving a filling?
During the procedure, your dentist will numb your tooth to limit discomfort. Your tooth may be sensitive for a few days or even a couple weeks after a filling. To manage this sensitivity, use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth, avoid beverages that are very cold or hot and chew food on the other side of your mouth if necessary.
How is a filling different from dental sealants or an onlay?
Though all three of these procedures can benefit the health of your teeth, they serve different functions. While fillings are restorative in nature, sealants are concerned with preventive care. A dentist can use resin to cover the tops of teeth with jagged grooves where bacteria can more easily accumulate. Sealants are most often placed on the back teeth (molars) with the most uneven surfaces. The treatment is primarily used on children, though adults who are prone to cavities can also benefit.
An onlay also fits over the biting surface of a tooth that has decayed (or perhaps been damaged by injury). It is made of a more durable material (often porcelain) to protect the tooth and restore its functionality.