Getting a filling is one of the most common reasons that patients go to the dentist. More than 150 million filling procedures are performed each year on patients across the country. This method is the standard in treating common dental issues such as minor tooth decay, cracks, and chipped teeth. Fillings have traditionally been made of a variety of materials such as gold, or porcelain. Nowadays, fillings are made with composite resins, which are synthetic materials that can fill cavities, gaps, breaks, and chips.
With composite resin fillings, dental issues like cavities and gaps can be effectively restored while also maintaining a natural, tooth-colored appearance. To learn more, please contact Old Town Smiles in Alexandria, Virginia today.
Types of Filling
It is extremely common for people to require fillings or a tooth restoration of some kind. Fillings are one of the most basic strategies for treating gaps and minor decay in teeth. In some form or another, dental fillings have been in use for more than a thousand years!
Older types of fillings have been made of combinations of metals like silver, copper, and mercury. These types of fillings are less ideal because they cannot match the natural appearance of the tooth.
However, the modern advancements in the science of material creation have given us the ability to create “composite resin” that is both high strength, durable and appears natural in the mouth.
About Composite Resin
Fillings and other tooth restoration techniques that use composite resin have grown in popularity. The composite filling uses a composite resin, a material that has shown to be great for small cavities, are durable and are reasonably priced.
A composite resin is a tooth-colored mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Composite resin mimics the color and texture of natural teeth. Bonding utilizes a composite resin to close gaps, restore, reshaped, or recolor your smile. Tooth-colored fillings are used to replace old silver mercury fillings, decayed, cracked, and chipped teeth. They are also used on gums that show signs of recession and abfractions.
After preparing the tooth, the composite resin is placed inside the prep, and with the aid of a curing light, the filling is hardened. Your filling will then be strong, durable, and ready to use. Composite resins vary in their makeup but have been developed using sophisticated material sciences. The particular mixture used varies based on the brands but often involve engineered glasses, ceramics and resins. The glass fillers give the fillings their strength. Usually, materials such as dimethacrylate, bisphenol A-glycidyl methacrylate, and silica dioxide make up the bulk of a composite resin filling.
The most significant advantage of the composite resin is its natural tooth-like appearance. The variety of composite resin material combinations make it possible to match your exact tooth color for a seamless appearance. The nature of the composite resins also means that they bond well to the tooth structure. Older types of fillings are stuffed into a hole created in the tooth where the composites are glued. With older types, they require the hole to be textured for a stronghold, meaning that some of the healthy teeth are lost. Composite fillings bond to the tooth structure for a stronger hold.
Composite resins are easier to repair, a cheaper alternative to crowns, and highly versatile materials for repairing a wide range of issues. Composite resins are an ideal choice offering patients a quality filling that holds and looks great. The dentist will be able to discuss with you which options are best suited for your situation.
Do I Need a Dental Filling?
If you have chronic pain in your mouth, tooth sensitivity or experience pain with hot or cold foods and beverages, there is a good chance you may have a dental issue. Dental issues that require a filling are tooth decay, chipping or breakage of a tooth. Poor dental hygiene is a major cause of tooth decay, but it may also be the result of tooth grinding.
Children and adults may need a dental filling, but older patients typically require dental restoration more often. With older adults, there may also be a need to repair or restore old fillings because they are broken, or the patient wishes to change their filling type. Even if you are not experiencing pain, you may still need a filling or tooth repair.
Modern detection methods such as fiber-optic imaging or x-rays can give us a clearer, more accurate picture of your dental health. Cracks or tooth disease invisible to the naked eye are now diagnosable in early stages. It is best to nip these issues in the bud before significant problems develop. Patients who tend to snack often, eat lots of sugars, brush less than twice a day, or grind their teeth at night are prone to developing dental issues. Snacking triggers the development of plaque buildup, which also contributes to bacterial growth and tooth decay. Combined with poor hygiene, dental problems are inevitable.
A consultation and regular check-ups with qualified professionals like Dr. Kim Kitchen and Dr. Seema Ahmed will ensure that you achieve the brightest, healthiest smile possible. At Old Town Smiles, our commitment to our patients and their experience is what sets us apart. The most modern facilities and methods are at our disposal and will be used during the consultation to assess the best form of care for your needs. During this appointment, you will meet with the dentist to discuss any of your symptoms and your teeth will be inspected closely. If the case calls for restorative treatment, the dentist will make recommendations based on what will achieve the best results.
Dental Filling Procedure
After an initial consultation and assessment, an appointment for your procedure will be scheduled. The basic steps involved with a tooth restoration or filling are anesthetic, removal of decay if needed, decay inspection, cleaning, filling with composite resin, curing the resin securely to the natural tooth, and polishing.
Anesthetic – a numbing medication is injected locally around the tooth to be restored to ensure the patient feels comfortable during the process.
Removal of decay – in the case treating cavities and tooth decay, a drill, abrasion instrument will remove
unhealthy elements of the tooth to prevent further decay.
Decay inspection – a closer inspection is made to ensure only healthy elements of the tooth are left.
Cleaning – the tooth is cleared of debris or blood then bacteria is cleaned away.
Composite Resin – is filled into the gap or space in layers.
Curing – a “curing light” is used to harden the resin. The curing light is usually a handheld device that is calibrated to project the wavelength of light that sets off a reaction in the resin. Cure time can be made longer to achieve darker shades. The resin materials contain “photo-initiators” and accelerators. These materials are sensitive to light, and when exposed, a reaction is triggered. The curing light often appears bright blue or white.
Polish – as each layer is cured and hardened, the dentist will polish and shave away extra material to create a smooth, natural shape.
Composite resins may take additional time to set because resins need to be placed in dry conditions, making this process a bit more intricate than others.
Dr. Kitchen and Dr. Ahmed are highly trained, using their expertise to ensure that patients have the best experience possible. During the procedure, your comfort level is regularly monitored, and the quality of the restoration is thoroughly inspected throughout.
Aftercare and Recovery
Numbing will last about two hours after the treatment. After about three hours, patients can return to normal activity. Immediately after the procedure, some people experience sensitivity around the treated tooth, but this will eventually fade. Brushing at least twice a day and ideally after each meal, as well as using mouthwash and flossing regularly are all recommended for good oral hygiene. Following these instructions will help to keep the teeth clean and the restoration healthy.
The final results of a restoration that uses composite resin are immediately visible. Most patients are pleased with the natural appearance of the fillings and the quality of the material. Fillings and restorations made from composite resins are long-lasting, with a lifespan as long as ten years depending on oral hygiene. The durability of composites resins has been clinically studied and proven to offer long-term restoration with little chances of failure when combined with good overall dental hygiene practices.
The cost of a filling, repair or restoration of a tooth using composite resins will vary on a case by case basis. Cavity filling will require different techniques compared to chips or gaps. During the consultation, your symptoms and tooth condition will be assessed, and the best plan of action will be recommended to you. Insurance plans also vary considerably in terms of their coverage of composite resin fillers. Patients in or around the Alexandria, Virginia areas can schedule a consultation right away and achieve a healthier, stronger, brighter looking smile. Please contact our office today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Ahmed or Dr. Kitchen.