In the past, dentists relied heavily on amalgam fillings (made of metal materials) to fill cavities and restore teeth. Today professionals across the industry have switched to composite (tooth-colored) fillings. They are made of a plastic and glass mixture that helps restore and improve patients’ smiles.
How Do Cavities Form?
The enamel has the natural ability to repair itself with time and the right circumstances. However, if the opposing force of decay is left unchecked, the enamel weakens. Decay starts with bad bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria feed off sugars and starches in the mouth, which is a great way to jump start digestion, but not good for teeth because bacteria produce acids as a byproduct. The acids attack the enamel, breaking down the crystalline structure and eventually resulting in a cavity.
Why Would I Need a Filling?
Once a cavity forms it is permanent damage that no amount of brushing or flossing will reverse. The enamel is compromised and must be repaired by a dentist with a filling, inlay, onlay or crown depending on the extent of decay. If you do not treat cavities early, the damage can spread and lead to more serious problems like pulpal damage, an abscess tooth and even tooth loss. These problems are painful, dangerous and more expensive to repair.
Cosmetic or Amalgam Fillings?
Fillings made from amalgam are great for back teeth that take the brunt of the chewing forces and are not usually seen when a person smiles. They are time-tested fillings and continue to play an important role in dentistry. However, thanks to modern technological advances, patients have more choices for fillings. Resin-based fillings are ideal for prominent teeth. Though the material is not as strong as amalgam, it is especially beneficial for esthetics. Doctor can match the color of the bonding material to the natural shade of your teeth and no one will ever need to know you have a filling.
Cosmetic Filling Procedure
First dentist uses a local anesthetic to numb the area then clears away decay and infected tissue. He might use phosphoric acid to etch the enamel of teeth to form a more secure bond with composite resin. Second, following preparation, dentist layers in the resin, curing each with a specialized light. Once the final layer hardens, doctor shapes and polishes the composite to fit the opposing biting surface and prevent early staining and damage.
Benefits of Cosmetic Fillings
- Match the natural shade of teeth
- More affordable material
- Straight forward procedure
- Patients retain more natural tooth structure
- Restore function and strength of decayed teeth
- Versatile material that works in a number of circumstances