Bonded fillings are one of the most popular treatments in dentistry. Tooth colored composite resin fillings restore the health of your smile while offering a natural looking, aesthetic result. They are a cosmetic alternative to amalgam and are often used for elective cosmetic improvements. In this informative article, we’ll explore why bonded fillings are less invasive than traditional silver fillings and explore topics such as:
- Candidates for bonded fillings
- Composite resin fillings vs silver amalgam fillings
- Dental fillings treatment process
- Risks and benefits of bonded fillings
- Caring for your composite fillings
- FAQs about bonded fillings
Composite fillings are intended for addressing mild dental damage. This treatment may be right for you if you:
- Have mild to moderate tooth decay
- Want to replace your old silver fillings with tooth colored fillings
- Have a minor chipped tooth or hairline fractures
- Want to conceal dental stains or small cracks
More severe decay will require more advanced treatment, such as a dental crown. If decay or damage has reached the nerve of the tooth, root canal therapy will be necessary to save the tooth from extraction.
Composite Fillings vs Silver Amalgam Fillings
Many patients had dental fillings placed decades ago. Traditionally, fillings were made from a dental amalgam – a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury. Due to their metallic color, silver fillings were visible, as they didn’t blend in with the surrounding teeth. To place these fillings, a significant amount of natural tooth structure had to be removed. Because these fillings were metal, they expanded and contracted with temperature fluctuations. As a result, this compromised the integrity of the remaining natural tooth structure.
Tooth colored composite fillings have been around since the 1980s. This alternative to amalgam fillings blends in with and matches the color of the surrounding tooth structure. Bonded fillings do not respond to temperature changes, so natural tooth structure is preserved. Furthermore, white fillings are less invasive, as they do not require as much alteration as conventional silver fillings. Unlike amalgam, composite is bonded to the surface of the tooth. The fact that it bonds to the tooth allows it to create a better seal. Amalgams are often removed and replaced just for cosmetic purposes.
Dental Fillings Treatment Process
Before doing the cosmetic dental procedure, your dentist administers local anesthesia for your comfort. Next, any damaged portions or decay is removed.
After cleaning and drying the tooth surface, your dentist applies composite resin material to fill in the void left behind by the cavity. This material is custom shaded to your natural tooth color, so it blends in. Once the dentist shapes the material, it is hardened – or cured – with a special dental light.
Finally, the tooth is smoothed and polished.
Bonded Fillings: Risks and Benefits
Composite fillings offer a wide range of benefits. First, this treatment is quick and less invasive than alternative procedures. It’s also long lasting. Fillings last five to seven years on average, but often last much longer with proper care. Finally, dental fillings are generally more affordable than other treatments and are usually covered by dental insurance.
As with any treatment, there are a few risks to be aware of. Patients who undergo fillings may experience temporary sensitivity or discomfort in the weeks following the appointment. You’ll likely need to have your fillings replaced at some point.
In the past, there was some concern about the safety of composite fillings. However, a research study conducted by the National Institutes of Health shows that the introduction of newer materials for these procedures reduce the risk of biocompatibility issues.
How to Maintain Your Dental Fillings
Fortunately, bonded teeth don’t require a lot of extra maintenance. Here are a few pointers to keep your fillings in good condition:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss between the teeth daily.
- Attend regular dental examinations and cleanings.
- Avoid dark colored foods and beverages, which could stain your fillings over time.
FAQs about Bonded Fillings
How can I know that composite fillings are the best restorative option for me?
When you visit your dentist to explore your treatment options, simply discuss your concerns and tell your doctor what you’d like to achieve. After a comprehensive evaluation, he or she can help determine if composite fillings will be beneficial for you.
Is receiving a bonded filling painful? Will I need to be numbed?
You dentist will administer local anesthesia to keep you comfortable the entire time. You should not experience any pain during the procedure. Any tenderness following your appointment can be addressed with over the counter pain medication.
How long does the procedure last?
Unlike other dental treatments that take two to three office visits, dental fillings can be completed in just one appointment. Depending on how many cavities you have, treatment can last anywhere from one to three hours.
Do dentists still place silver fillings?
Yes, but because many individuals are concerned about the mercury content in silver fillings, some patients opt to have their old silver fillings removed and replaced with resin the color of teeth.
Learn More about Bonded Fillings
If you think you might have cavities or dental damage, dental bonding may be a solution for you. To learn more about this treatment option, call your dentist or contact us, a world renowned cosmetic practice serving the Chicago, IL area.