White and Tooth-Colored Fillings
Dental fillings are a common procedure used to fill and mend a cavity or hole in a tooth. Fillings prevent the cavity from getting larger, as well as protect the tooth from further decay. Tooth-colored fillings, called composites, have become the filling of choice over traditional silver-colored fillings. This is because most patients want their fillings to blend with their natural teeth and improve the appearance of their smile. Most cavities can successfully be repaired with tooth-colored fillings. Composite resin can also be used to cover a silver-colored filling.
How Atlanta Dental Fillings Work
The process for tooth-colored fillings is very similar to traditional fillings. The patient starts by having a consultation with their dentist to pin point any cavities in the teeth. Once a cavity has been discovered, the dentist will examine the tooth to determine the severity of the decay. A plan to treat and fill the cavities will be mapped out over one or more visits depending on the number of cavities the patient has. Because fillings can take time, it is favorable to break up several fillings over a few appointments to give the mouth a break.
To begin your dental filling, the dentist will prepare the tooth by numbing the mouth with a local anesthetic. Typically, a gel will be applied to the gums first. This numbs the gums to make the injection more comfortable. Every patient is different – some may require more injections than others depending on how fast the anesthetic begins to fade. Once the mouth is ready to begin, several different sample teeth will be held to the tooth to choose the composite closest to your tooth color. This will ensure the filling is virtually undetectable compared to your natural teeth.
The decay is removed from the tooth using a variety of dental instruments, including a dental drill. Once the decay is completely removed, the dentist will begin to prepare the tooth for the composite filling. It is imperative that the surface of the tooth remain clean and dry during this process. A gel is applied to the dry surface of the tooth to create very small holes in the enamel. This will give the tooth-colored filling a way to bond to the tooth and prevent it from detaching.
After rinsing the gel away, the tooth is dried before applying primer and a bonding agent. Both of these will strengthen the bond of the composite filling to the tooth. The tooth-colored resin is then filled into the prepared tooth. A blue light is used to harden the composite, and may need to be applied several times depending on how many layers of composite are needed. Once the dentist is finished filling the cavity and setting the composite, they will test the height of the filling. If the filling is too high, it will be drilled down to align with your natural bite. This is important to prevent discomfort, as well as headaches and jaw pain.
Other Dental Fillings Uses
Along with giving fillings a natural look, tooth-colored composite has a variety of other cosmetic uses. Tooth-colored composite resin can also be used to improve the look and shape of teeth. A small chip or imperfection can be camouflaged with composite resin shaped to fit the tooth. Discolored or severely stained teeth that do not respond to whitening treatments can be covered with tooth-colored composite to give a natural, white smile.