A filling is one of the most routine yet effective treatments to repair tooth decay. When a portion of the enamel is weakened by a cavity, fillings provide a minimally invasive solution to restore the integrity of the affected tooth. Traditionally, fillings were composed of a metal amalgam material that offered durability, but did not look very natural among surrounding teeth. Dr. Mark Griffiths, our extensively trained dentist in Bankers Hill, places tooth-colored composite fillings for San Diego patients who are seeking an aesthetically pleasing restoration to treat their cavity.
- What are Composite Fillings?
- Composite Fillings Reasons
- Tooth-Colored Fillings Benefits
- Fillings vs. Dental Crowns
- Composite Fillings Treatment
- Composite Fillings Results
- Composite Fillings Cost
- Exchanging Metal Fillings
What are Composite Fillings?
Composite fillings are utilized to treat small to mid-size cavities and fractures in the tooth enamel. They are bonded directly to the surface of a tooth and designed to withstand pressure from chewing, often resulting in long-lasting protection. Composite fillings are made out of a glass or quartz filler coated in tooth-colored resin, which can greatly resemble the shade and translucency of natural tooth enamel. As a result, composite fillings can blend in with your teeth and do not inhibit the beauty of your smile. Aside from their aesthetic advantages, composite fillings also require less tooth preparation than metal fillings. With metal amalgam, a dentist typically has to remove more of the tooth structure to make room for the filling. Composite fillings do not require as much preparation to rebuild a tooth, allowing patients to address decay while preserving more of their natural tissue.
Reasons for Getting a Filling
A composite filling is a simple restoration that can treat an array of minor dental concerns. Fillings are generally ideal in cases where decay is threatening the health of a tooth, but the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown. Depending on your overall goals, composite fillings can be placed to repair:
- Small to moderate cavities
- Front teeth that have been chipped
- Enamel that has deteriorated due to natural wear and tear
If you do not have a cavity but you would like to restore the appearance of a chipped or misshapen tooth, composite bonding is another option at Griffiths Smiles that can refine a tooth without invasive techniques. Dr. Griffiths can develop your unique treatment plan after listening to your concerns and assessing the best solutions to achieve your goals.
What are the Benefits of a Tooth-Colored Filling?
Although metal amalgam fillings have sufficiently repaired cavities in the past, these restorations presented certain drawbacks for patients related to the treatment process and the overall quality of results. Composite fillings can address these limitations by providing individuals with:
- More natural results: Composite fillings are designed to match the shade of your natural enamel, meaning your filling should be indistinguishable from surrounding teeth within your smile.
- Holistic treatment option: Tooth-colored fillings can offer a more natural and holistic restoration than metal amalgam by eliminating the possibility of mercury exposure.
- Preserves more of your natural tooth enamel: Since they are made of composite resin rather than metal, tooth-colored fillings require less of your natural tissue to be removed during treatment.
- Does not warp with temperature: Metal fillings are more susceptible to temperature changes and often contract/expand to a greater degree than composite restorations. This can increase sensitivity in the treated tooth due to amalgam’s susceptibility to the effects of heat and cold.
- May cause discoloration: It’s not uncommon to experience discoloration below your metal filling over time, often causing the treated tooth to darken as the years pass.
Dr. Griffiths and our dental team are thrilled to offer San Diego patients the latest, most conservative treatment options and restorations to repair damage in their teeth. We also utilize top-of-the-line dental technology to make your visit as comfortable, efficient, and convenient as possible.
Fillings vs. Dental Crowns
Composite fillings are capable of repairing teeth that have been weakened by minor decay, but more extensive damage may require a dental crown to strengthen and protect the enamel. A dental crown is a custom-fabricated “cap” that covers the entire surface of a tooth. Rather than being bonded directly to a tooth like a filling, dental crowns require more preparation of the natural tooth structure prior to being attached. While composite fillings are more intended to treat minor issues, dental crowns can effectively repair fillings that have fractured, as well as broken, cracked, and severely decayed teeth.
What Can I Expect From Treatment for a Tooth-Colored Filling?
Getting a filling is a relatively quick and simple treatment to restore a strong, healthy tooth. Performed in-office, Dr. Griffiths starts by removing decayed or diseased tissue. The area may be numbed prior to treatment depending on the extent of dental work necessary, your preferences, and the details of your treatment plan. Once the tooth has been cleaned of decay, Dr. Griffiths will clean the cavity and continue to remove any residual bacteria. The composite tooth-colored resin is then applied in layers and hardened using a special light, which “cures” or hardens the filling. It is then sculpted and polished to a shine, reclaiming a stronger and healthier tooth structure.
How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?
Tooth-colored fillings offer results that can last many years, but the exact lifespan of these restorations usually depends on where the fillings are located and the pressure of your bite. If you are prone to clenching your jaw or teeth grinding, this excessive force may shorten the longevity of your fillings. In general, good oral hygiene consisting of daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental check ups, is the only maintenance necessary to keep fillings in good condition. If a more durable or long-lasting restoration is desired to address your cosmetic dental concerns, porcelain veneers may be a better option to achieve your goals. Dr. Griffiths can help you determine an optimal treatment plan once he assesses your tooth in person.
How Much Does a Tooth-Colored Filling Cost?
In many cases, fillings are covered under dental insurance plans and our team would be happy to help you learn whether your policy provides coverage. We encourage you to review our protocols on insurance and co-pays to gain a better understanding of how our team can assist you. In cases where patients have out-of-pocket costs, we also accept financing plans with CareCredit® — a trusted healthcare lending company that can help qualified patients receive the care they need while staying within their budget. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any other questions about the cost of fillings or our other services.
Can I Exchange My Metal Filling for a Tooth-Colored Filling?
Yes, if you wish to update your metal fillings to tooth-colored fillings, Dr. Griffiths can examine the affected teeth and walk you through the process of replacing your old restorations. Many patients exchange their fillings because they’re in poor condition or have decay accumulating below the restoration. Some individuals switch to tooth-colored fillings simply because they want their smile to look more natural. No matter the motivations behind your interest in upgrading to tooth-colored fillings, our team can formulate the best treatment plan for your needs.
If your tooth has been sensitive for more than one week, this may be indicative of a cavity or decayed enamel. Don’t hesitate to contact Griffiths Smiles online or by calling (619) 298-6257 to schedule an appointment to restore a clean, healthy mouth.