When a tooth has a small chip or a cavity in it, one of the ways that we can treat it is with a dental filling. At DeAnza Family Dentistry in Cupertino, we appreciate that not everyone likes having a silver filling placed into their teeth. This is why we offer a tooth-colored composite bonded filling which is a hard, plastic material that can fill in the area lost to decay or chipping. We can also do tooth bonding to change the shape of a tooth, making it longer, or build up a tooth to rotate it or close a gap between teeth.
Dr. Craig Mitchell and Dr. Rudy Dittrich have been placing composite fillings for over 30 years at our Silicon Valley office These restorations are referred to as “biomimetic”. In other words, they mimic the look and wear much as your own natural tooth would. While we still offer silver fillings for certain situations, most of our patients prefer the more esthetic white tooth-colored materials.
To repair the affected portion of the tooth, which could be cracked, decayed, or fractured, we first remove any unsupported tooth structure along with any decay and then fill it in with the composite filling. The materials we use are “light-cured”, meaning it allows us to place the material and mold it into shape, verify the color match and then harden the material with a special light. We then shape and polish the tooth and check the bite.
There are several different types of filling materials available to restore a tooth these days. We can use, amalgam (silver fillings), composite fillings, gold, or porcelain. Depending on the location in the mouth, how much wear and tear the tooth will receive, and if it is an adult tooth, or a baby tooth, along with the location on the tooth, will determine which material we will suggest. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. We can discuss the best options for you before we begin restoring your teeth. Composite fillings, along with silver amalgam fillings, are the most widely used today. Because composite fillings are tooth-colored, they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth, and are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or more visible areas of the mouth. Porcelain restorations such as veneers or onlays are often used for esthetic or larger restorations. Gold tends to give a better chewing surface that is softer than the opposing tooth and is sometimes used in the back molars.
As with most types of dental restorations, composite fillings are not permanent and will someday have to be replaced. Fortunately, most of the newer types of composites are very durable and will last many years, giving you a long-lasting, beautiful smile.
Reasons for doing composite fillings:
- Chipped teeth
- Gumline recession
- Closing space between two teeth
- Broken or cracked teeth
- Worn teeth
- Decayed teeth
Factors that can affect the longevity of a composite filling:
- The size of the filling
- The opposing dentition (whether it is a porcelain crown, a natural tooth, a denture, or nothing touching it)
- The access to place it and the location near the gumline (for example, a large filling that goes below the gumline on an upper second molar would probably not last as long as a small pit deep on a lower bicuspid)
- Oral hygiene at home
- Habits such as chewing ice, smoking, or drinking lots of acidic drinks such as coffee and soda.
How are composite fillings placed?
Composite fillings are generally placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, we will remove any decay as needed. Next, we smooth the edges and remove any unsupported tooth structure. The space is then thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, we might place a special medication for added temperature insulation and protection. The composite filling will then be placed, shaped, and then polished, restoring your tooth back to its original shape and function.
Since the material is bonded to the tooth using an acid etch to clean off the surface, occasionally, there may be some slight temperature sensitivity afterward for a day or two. Give our office a call if this should persist, however, in the majority of cases, there should be no sensitivity at all.
As with any dental work, you will want to be careful not to bite your lip or tongue if it was numb during the treatment. As mentioned above, good oral hygiene practices, eating habits, along with maintaining regular dental check-up visits will help increase the life of your new fillings.
Contact DeAnza Family Dentistry in Silicon Valley if you would like to replace or repair any old fillings or would like a “second opinion” on current fillings. Dr. Rudy Dittrich and Dr. Craig Mitchell look forward to helping you.