Tooth Colored Fillings (Composites)
Composite fillings, also known as tooth colored fillings, are a routine procedure done in the dental office. They are quickly becoming the most common type of filling done due to their high esthetics and ability to bond to a tooth. Some common reasons a composite filling may be recommended include:
- A tooth with a small fracture
- A tooth with shallow crack lines
- Broken fillings
- Large, worn out fillings
The composite resin material creates a natural appearance, allowing us to use it on both front and back teeth. They are a great choice for those who prefer aesthetic options, or for front teeth which are visible when smiling. Teeth filled with composite dental fillings can often be made to look like a natural tooth. Our skilled dentists can shape and contour the tooth with excellent color matching to make the filling invisible to the naked eye. Composite, or tooth colored fillings are the most popular filling material option today and are utilized in over 95% of the fillings done at our office in the past decade.
The Composite Filling Procedure
Composite fillings are done in our Albuquerque dental office daily, and are typically completed in a one hour appointment. After administering a painless injection, your dentist will removed any decayed, weak, or otherwise compromised tooth structure. The composite filling is then placed in the tooth in several stages to increase success and minimize sensitivity. Composite fillings are made of a light cure material, and are set as soon as your procedure is completed. Once the filling is placed, your dentist will check the fit, bite and shape to give you a functional and beautiful tooth.
Tooth colored fillings take a little longer to place than silver fillings and require a dry tooth during placement in order to bond to the tooth. We will sometimes utilize specialized tools to keep the tooth isolated from moisture and saliva while we are placing the filling.
Composite fillings vs Amalgam Fillings
While both composite (white) fillings and amalgam (silver) fillings are great filling materials, each one has risks and benefits. The primary benefit of composite fillings is higher esthetics. Composite fillings also have the ability to bond, which makes them a better option for large fillings with weakened tooth structure. Your dentist will discuss with you the recommended treatment for your tooth and mouth.
There are certain teeth where it may not be possible to place composite based on saliva flow, tongue interference or other biological factors. In these circumstances we will discuss dental filling material options such as silver fillings or other tooth colored filling options.
Caring for your Composite Filling
After your filling is complete, we recommend avoiding food and hot beverages until the numbness has worn off. After your appointment, you may have some tenderness around the injection site and the tissue around the tooth. You may also notice some initial hot and cold sensitivity. Take it easy on your tooth if you notice any post operative symptoms, and inform your dentist if they do not resolve.
It is important to brush and floss around your filling. A tooth with a filling can still develop a cavity, both on the tooth structure adjacent to the filling, and at the margin of the filling (where the filling meets the tooth). Without proper cleaning, your filling is at higher risk of developing a cavity and breaking down. Proper diet also plays a roll in the longevity of your filling. Teeth and fillings that are often exposed to sugary and acidic environments are more likely to need frequent replacement.
As with all dental work, composite fillings need to be replaced periodically and will be checked carefully at each of your preventive care appointments. At your preventative care appointments, your dentist will carefully check each of your teeth for cavities and signs of a worn out filling. It is important to catch a worn out filling early to prevent the need for more extensive procedures.