Do you have pain from your teeth, especially after drinking hot or cold beverages? If you are experiencing pain in your teeth, then you should contact Hansen Dentistry for an evaluation. Sensitive teeth maybe a sign that you may have a cavity. Cavities are caused by harmful bacteria that eats away the protective mineral content of the external layer of teeth, the dental enamel, and make then sensitive. The treatment is a common dental procedure to remove the cavity and then replace the lost tooth structure with a suitable filling material. Of course, if a cavity-infected tooth that’s to far gone may require a crown instead of a composite filling. Previously, silver metallic filling materials were used for restoration of teeth, which were unaesthetic from their metallic appearance, but could be a source of allergies and sensitivity due to mercury and other metals in dental amalgam like silver, copper or tin.
What are Composite Fillings?
Composites are polymeric materials, which are reinforced by the addition of very fine nano-sized filler particles such as quartz or glass particles. Dyes are incorporated within them in various proportions to match the shade of the filling with that of your natural tooth. A good cosmetic dentist will match the color of the filling with your existing teeth, so that it can blend in among your other natural teeth. That makes it more appealing compared to fillings that use the silver colored amalgam, which can be noticeable whenever you talk or smile. A light sensitive material is also added, which breaks down upon exposure to a light source, and initiates the polymerization of composites. Since light is used to bond the filling quickly, this procedure is also known as bonding.
Composite Fillings Procedure
Firstly, the Dr. Hansen excavates the cavity from the affected tooth by using a dental headpiece and hand excavators. Next, the natural tooth surface is conditioned for the placement of composite by etching it with an acid of suitable concentration (usually 37% phosphoric acid), followed by the placement of a bonding agent, to which the composite filling is attached. Next, your dentist uses a light source, usually an LED or a Halogen lamp to polymerize the composite filling. This procedure is known as light polymerization, and takes up to a minute to complete.
Benefits of Composite Fillings
- Excellent Aesthetics – unlike the amalgams fillings, which have an unappealing silver color, the shade of composites can be easily matched with that of the natural teeth. As a result, they will blend with your natural teeth, and greatly improve your smile and overall facial aesthetics.
- Tooth Conservation – previous filling materials required sacrificing extensive healthy tooth structure to ensure retention of the filling material within the prepared tooth, composites only require removal of the infected tooth structure, and therefore require minimal tooth preparation and loss of healthy tooth structure.
- Bonding – unlike the amalgam fillings, which are unable to bond to the tooth surface and required extensive tooth preparation for their placement. In contrast, the composite fillings are able to bind to your tooths structure, which not only requires less time for you, but the placement procedure is also less complicated.
- Safety – in contrast to the amalgam fillings, which have been shown to possess certain effects on the body, the composites fillings are safe and bio-compatible.
- Repairable – composite fillings can be easily repaired in case the filling gets fractured or chipped off. In contrast, amalgam fillings are not repairable, and need to be replaced if damaged.
Drawbacks of Composites
- Higher Investment– since they are cosmetic restorative materials, composite fillings are more expensive when compared with other filling materials, such as amalgams and glass ionomers.
- Prone To Wear – despite their numerous beneficial properties, composites filling materials are prone to wear as a result of contact with the opposing teeth during speech or mastication. The situation is further aggravated in people who have a habit of grinding their teeth. Therefore, they are not used in high load bearing areas, such as the back teeth.
- Shorter Lifespan – compared with the amalgam fillings, which can survive in the mouth for up to 30 years, the composites are biodegradable (hence, safer), and have a shorter lifespan in comparison with the amalgam fillings.
Despite the expense and few inherent drawbacks of composite filling materials, they are currently the most commonly used filling materials in the developed world. As a dentist in Tacoma for the last 36 years we believe that this new type of composite filling is better than the traditional amalgam metal based fillings. You can always consult with Dr. Hansen DDS for more information if a composite filling is right for you.
Nervous about getting a composite filling?
Don’t worry because we specialize in sedation dentistry. Dr. David Hansen is one of the few dentists in Tacoma to offer sedation dentistry services.
Ask about adding sedation dentistry to your composite filling visit.
Call (253) 752-7755 or stop by our office at 3515 S 15th Street #201 Tacoma, WA 98405 to learn more.