A simple dental restoration refers to a filling. For many years, patients received fillings made from amalgams of metals. This was the filling material of choice due to the strength and low cost. Now, there are tooth-colored fillings available for esthetic purposes.
Amalgams are still offered for molars or other teeth that are not as visible in the mouth. The grinding and chewing repetitive motions on these teeth require a material with strength and endurance. Often, dentists and patients agree that these are the best choice for chewing surfaces for their necessary durability.
Resin Composite Fillings
The silver metal appearance of amalgams is not considered to be appealing looking in the front teeth. Luckily, resin composite fillings are available for use in those areas. Resin composites are made up of acrylic plastics, quartz, and colorants. They are made to match the color of the tooth so that they are not visually noticeable. While not as strong as amalgams, companies are constantly improving the strength and endurance of resin composites. They can be used in any tooth, including molars.
Before the development of resin composites, dentists had to resort to placing crowns over amalgam fillings to create a natural looking tooth.
One of the main differences, aside from color and strength, between resin and amalgam fillings is the way they are applied. Amalgams are not able to be bonded directly to the tooth. They are pressed and fitted into the tooth, but not bonded. You may know of someone who had a filling pop out when they were eating something chewy! Resin fillings are bonded to the natural tooth. The composite is easier than amalgam for the dentist to work with to accomplish a natural tooth-shape that is bonded to the tooth.
Another benefit of resin composites is the ability to use them for a variety of dental problems. In addition to fillings, resins may be used to repair teeth that have been worn or chipped, and if a broken tooth does not have nerve damage, a resin may be used to repair it, depending on the amount of natural tooth left to support a filling.
Fillings are usually a one appointment procedure. They are not performed at regular checkups because additional time is needed to prepare and fill the affected tooth.
Local anesthesia is provided via injection, to ensure the patient’s comfort during the procedure. The affected tooth is surrounded by dental materials, such as cotton gauze or packing. The tooth is dried thoroughly so that the bonding will hold well. After the dentist drills away the decayed portion of the tooth, the resin composite is layered onto the prepared area. A light is inserted into the mouth to cure, or harden, each layer before the next is applied, to ensure maximum hardness. After the process is completed, the dentist will contour the surface to mimic the shape of a natural tooth. The patient may have to bite and identify whether the new surface feels appropriately sized or needs to be built up or adjusted to fit naturally with the bite.
Once this is finished, the filling is finished and appears completely natural.
Some people look in the mirror and realize that their teeth are not as white as they used to be. They may appear yellow or stained. This could be due to coffee, cigarettes, tobacco products, or other conditions that have contributed that a smile that is not as bright as they would like. This can lead to embarrassment, loss of confidence, and decreased self-esteem.