Caring for one’s teeth is a sure way to avoid some of the most common dental problems we have today, including dental cavities. However, sometimes these issues are inevitable. If you have recently visited a dentist and he/she finds a cavity, it is time to consider getting a dental filling. Fortunately, there are many options today for anyone that is looking for a way to salvage a tooth that has been affected by a cavity.

At Washington Dental, we offer the best services in dental fillings, according to our clients' needs. We have highly-skilled and experienced dentists in procedures involving composite fillings, who will ensure that all your affected teeth are correctly filled and saved from further damage. Therefore, if you are in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance & Lomita, CA, and are considering getting a composite filling, get in touch with us today.

Understanding Dental Fillings

Dental cavities are some of the most common dental issues affecting millions of people across the globe. They occur when the hard surface of a tooth is permanently damaged, resulting in a tiny opening or hole. Dental cavities are also known as caries of dental decay, and they are as a result of several factors. The most common of these factors include bacteria in a person's mouth, frequent snacking, not cleaning one's teeth properly, and indulging in sugary foods and drinks, among others.

Dentists recommend proper care for our teeth, including daily cleaning of our teeth and regular visits to the dental office as some of how we could prevent these issues. However, if you experience a cavity on your tooth or teeth, know that there is a hope to save that tooth or teeth from further damage.

Dental cavities are quite common, not just in children and teenagers but on adults as well. Dentists say that any person that has teeth, including an infant, runs the risk of suffering a dental cavity. There is a need to treat a dental cavity as soon as it occurs. Otherwise, it could get large and affect other teeth as well as the deeper layers of your teeth. Again, other issues come when a dental cavity becomes severe, including:

  • Pain that will affect your day-to-day life
  • Nutrition and/or weight loss issues. These will be experienced if the pain on your teeth is affecting what you eat and the way you eat.
  • Loss of your natural tooth/teeth. It could affect your physical appearance, self-esteem, and confidence.
  • A tooth abscess, which is the pocket of pus that comes whenever a person has a bacterial infection. It could result in other severe and life-threatening diseases.

For these and many other reasons, there is a need to visit a dentist as soon as you notice a dental cavity. The most likely form of treatment that your dentist will recommend is a dental filling. Dental filling involves removal of the decayed portion of a tooth or teeth, then filling the area where the decayed material was removed. Dental fillings can also be for repairing broken or cracked teeth, as well as teeth that have been worn down from tooth grinding and nail-biting.

What Options are Available?

There are several options available for dental patients who are considering dental fillings as a way to save teeth that have been affected by a cavity. Today, we have several materials used by dentists for dental fillings, which also vary in their complexity. There are direct fillings, which are filled directly on the affected part of the tooth/teeth, and there are indirect fillings. For indirect fillings, your dentist will create an impression of the affected tooth, and then custom-make infilling that will perfectly fit around it. If your dentist is recommending dental fillings, it will help to know what is available to make the right decision.

Amalgam Fillings

It is the kind of dental fillings dentists have been using for years and so, could be the choice many people would go for. Just as its name suggests, amalgam fillings are usually made from a mixture of various metals. What you get is at least 50% of mercury, mixed with silver, zinc, or copper. They are the simplest dental fillings option available today. They also come cheap when compared to other options. The good thing is that amalgam fillings are quite durable and so, could last for a very long time.

However, you need to know that amalgam fillings come in silver color, which gets to darken with time. It means that they will be conspicuous from the beginning to the end. When you open your mouth, everyone will know that you had a dental filling, which is too much to bear for a lot of people. Again, the amount of mercury in this type of dental filling is a worry for most people, even if the FDA has established that they are safe for patients above the age of six.

Gold Fillings

Gold is a material that will appeal to many people, mainly because it is durable and long-lasting. When it comes to dental fillings, everyone wants a solution that will take them several years before going for another procedure, and so, durability is vital. Gold fillings have been proven to remain active for more than two decades. However, all that will come at a price, which places gold fillings at a higher cost than other dental filling options.

Most gold fillings are usually indirect fillings, and so, you may need more time at the dentist's office before the procedure is complete.

Porcelain Fillings

They work just like gold fillings in that they are an indirect form of dental filling. For that reason, you will need more than a single visit to the dentist's office for the procedure to be complete. Again, porcelain fillings are quite pricey too. However, unlike gold fillings, porcelain fillings are quite fragile and may not serve you for a long time. The advantage in these kinds of fillers is that they look just like the natural teeth and could help a person maintain their natural appearance.

Glass Ionomer or Resin

These are the kinds of dental fillings that are suitable for children. As mentioned above, children, just like adults, suffer cavities too. Not all dental fillings can be used on primary teeth, and so, resin or glass ionomers are specially designed for them. These are also dental fillings that can be used to fill smaller areas of dental decay. However, this type of dental filling is very delicate and could easily suffer wear and tear. Therefore, it is recommended for teeth that are not usually subjected to chewing or extreme pressure.

Composite Fillings

These are the types of dental fillings that will be discussed at length in this text. The filling is made out of acrylic resin and powdered glass. It may not have been in use for years like amalgam filling, but the composite filling has more advantages to offer than amalgam and other dental fillings discussed above. One of the benefits the patient gets to enjoy is the fact that the filling can be shaded to match the exact color of their natural teeth. For that reason, no one needs to know that you have had a dental fill. When dental fillings are less visible, a person can enjoy more freedom when laughing and socializing.

Today, people undergoing various dental procedures are demanding for a more natural look to keep their natural smile and confidence. This is precisely what you get with composite fillings.

With several options available for patients seeking dental filling services today, it feels good to know that one can always redeem a tooth or teeth that they are about to lose to cavities. What is needed is proper dental advice from an experienced dentist, informed decision making, and the best dentist to perform the procedure.

Composite Fillings Overview

Composite fillings are also referred to as tooth-colored dental fillings. They are a type of dental fillings that provide resistance and durability to a fractured or damaged tooth. They are also the kinds of fillers that can be used on a small and mid-size dental cavity. After their installation, the tooth can withstand moderate pressure from the everyday stress of chewing. Composite fillings are high on both the front and back teeth and are best suited for patients who want a more natural look.

There is a lot to consider when deciding to go for composite fillings as your dentist will tell you. The first thing will be the cost. Most people who are looking for a more natural look will be prepared to pay more for a dental procedure. It means that you may have to pay more for composite fillings that you would pay for amalgam fillings. Still on the cost, not all insurance plans cover dental fillings, and so, you may have to pay for the procedure out of your pocket. On durability, it is worth noting that your composite fillings may serve you for a much longer time than most dental fillings, but not amalgam. However, not all dental fillings last forever, and so, it is good to be prepared to have the procedure done again in the future.

It will take you a much longer time to have your composite filling installed, more than it would take if you were getting an amalgam filling. It is because the procedure requires the affected part to be well-cleaned and dried before it is filled.

Today, composite fillings are more popular than other fillings discussed above, maybe because of the cosmetics. We live in a world where people focus more on a bright, white smile, which is only achievable if you were to choose a dental filling that matches up with your natural teeth.

However, it is essential to note that the only way out of such dental procedures is to take good care of your teeth. When the inevitable happens, you can get in touch with an experienced dentist for a dental filling that will give you back the functionality of your teeth and also help you maintain your natural look and feel.

Advantages and Disadvantages

If you have a decayed or fractured tooth, you have several options today in the kinds of materials you will choose for your dental filling. Composite fillings come with so many advantages that you need to be aware of to make the right decision. Some of these include:

Aesthetically Appealing

Composite fillings are more beautiful when compared to other dental filling options available today. It is because they can be designed to match the color of the patient's natural teeth. They could also be designed to improve the patient's appearance. Therefore, if dental cavities had you worried about your look and feel, this is a dental filling option that can change it.

Less Drilling

The dental filling starts with the removal of the affected part of a tooth or teeth. It means that some drilling will be necessary to clean out the tooth and get it ready for filling. While this is a requirement for practically all types of dental fillings, the composite filling will require less of it. Not much of the original tooth's structure needs to be removed for a cavity to be filled in with a composite filling. What this means is that more of your natural tooth is preserved, along with its strength and functionality.

Quick Drying

When compared to other types of dental fillings, composite fillings only take a few seconds to dry, allowing the patient to leave the dental office with no much delay. Therefore, if you are in a hurry to have your dental cavity treated, this could be the solution that is suitable for you. Again, not everyone has enough patience to undergo lengthy dental procedures that require you to wait for hours or even to come back for a second or third visit. For such people, a quick filling by the use of a composite resin filling will be a quick way to restore a damaged tooth.

Strong and Long-lasting

As much as you need better looking and functional teeth, no one wants to keep coming back for dental treatments. For that reason, a long-lasting and robust solution would be the ideal option to go for, precisely what you get with composite fillings. After its installation, the filling bonds to the tooth, giving it higher strength and protecting it from further damage. You should be able to use your teeth again, just like you would use your natural teeth.

Repairable

All is not lost if your composite fillings get damaged along the way, the good news is that these types of fillings are repairable. It means that you can continue enjoying the functionality and appearance of your natural teeth as long as you live.

However, there are shortcomings to composite dental fillings that you should be aware of before you make that critical decision. Some of these are:

  • Composite fillings are more labor demanding. You need an experienced dentist for the task for the best results. It could also come at an extra cost, which may not work very well for someone that is working with a tight budget.
  • After the procedure, the patient could experience some tooth sensitivity. Even after the filling has completely dried, he/she may not be able to use the treated tooth/teeth.
  • When compared to amalgam fillings, composite fillings may wear out sooner, most notably because of daily chewing and grinding.
  • Composite fillings can easily be stained by the constant use of tea, coffee, wine, and any other food that has staining properties.

The Procedure

Getting your composite fillings installed is not different from how other dental fillings are installed. It all starts with the first dental visit, during which your dentist will assess the damage to your teeth and recommend the best mode of treatment. If both you and your dentist have decided to go for composite fillings, treatment will commence as soon as you are ready to go through the procedure.

Your dentist will begin the procedure by giving you anesthesia to numb the affected tooth/teeth and the affected area. The type of anesthesia used in this case could be general anesthesia or cosmetic dentist anesthesia.

With the anesthesia in place, he/she will start drilling out the affected area to remove the dental decay. The cleaning out is necessary as it helps prevent further damage to an already filled tooth. Drilling out can be done by the use of air abrasion or lasers as opposed to a drill. Your dentist will have to isolate the tooth from saliva to keep it completely dry, which is a requirement during this procedure.

Composite fillings can either be done directly on the tooth or indirectly. If you prefer a direct filling, the composite filling will be shaped and placed into the missing part of the affected tooth, then hardened or cured with some blue light. The filling is done in layers, one layer after another, to create a durable and long-lasting bond. An acid gel is used to etch the tooth so that it will bond and hold onto the filling, creating a healthy and more natural look.

If, on the other hand, you prefer an indirect filling, your dentist will create an impression of the part of the tooth that requires a filling, and then send it to his/her laboratory for the making of a filling. Once the filling is ready, he/she will set it in using dental cement.

 Once the filling is in place, it will bond directly to the remaining natural tooth, making it durable and incapable of breaking. Once the curing is done, your dentist will then polish your tooth to give it a more natural look and feel.

The entire procedure could take a much longer time than a person would take in a dental chair for an amalgam filling. It will also be more work and skill for the dentist. However, the results are incredible.

Homecare Instructions after Composite Fillings

Just like most dental procedures, composite fillings will require you to take good care of our teeth, especially the filling, for it to remain healthy and serve you for a long time. Your dentist will give you several basic homecare instructions that could also help prevent swelling and pain. Some of these instructions include:

  • That you should be careful with hot beverages
  • That you should refrain yourself from chewing at least until the numbness wears off
  • That you can take some Tylenol or Ibuprofen to take care of the tenderness until your tooth heals completely

In addition to these after-treatment precautions, other instructions could help speed up the healing process. They include:

  • Stick to liquids and soft foods in the hours following the procedure. Once the numbness wears off completely, your teeth may be ready for use once more. However, do not be quick to bite or chew on hard foods yet
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is recommended for all people, and especially those who have had a composite filling. For that reason, you need to regularly clean your teeth and floss daily to ensure that your mouth and teeth are safe from other types of infections.
  • Maintain regular visits to a dentist. He/she will examine your filling and the rest of your teeth to ensure that a problem is treated before it gets out of hand. If, after treatment, you experience significant discomfort or pain, you should go back to your dentist as soon as possible.

Find Composite Fillings Services Near Me

If you have a dental cavity and are afraid of losing your tooth, dental fillings could help you save that tooth and other teeth that could have been affected. Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to dental fillings, among them composite fillings. At Washington Dental, we offer the best services in composite fillings to help our clients save their natural teeth and also maintain their natural look and feel. If you are in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance & Lomita, CA, get in touch with us. We will help you make the right decision.