Dental fillings are one of the most frequently performed restorative treatments. According to Science Daily, the average American has three dental fillings. One in four people has 11 or more fillings. Fillings are ubiquitous because the treatment is affordable, versatile, and highly effective at restoring teeth following cavity removal.
While multiple fillings options are available to restore teeth, Dr. Karl Jobst works with white fillings, which are also known as composite fillings or tooth-colored fillings. The natural-looking fillings blend in seamlessly with the color and luster of your natural tooth. Many of our patients are unable to tell where their fillings begin or end because the composite resin is so natural looking.
Since most of us will have fillings placed at some point, we are offering this overview of white fillings so you understand important aspects of the treatment and the placement process.
What are dental fillings?
Fillings are the least invasive restorative treatment available. There is no single base material for fillings. What all fillings share in common is the use of a pliable material that fills in a portion of a tooth that has lost natural tooth structure, often as the result of treatment for tooth decay.
Fillings “fill in” areas of your tooth so you can enjoy restored oral health, restored bite balance, and a lower risk of future dental problems. While fillings are very affordable, unfortunately, they don’t last forever.
What Are Fillings Used For?
The most common use of white fillings is to restore strength and structure to your tooth following cavity treatment. Treating a cavity requires the removal of decayed tooth structure. The treatment restores oral health but leaves the treated tooth vulnerable to further decay.
Following a more invasive restorative treatment, you may be fitted with a pre-formed filling called an inlay or onlay. After root canal treatment or the removal of extensive tooth decay, you can be fitted with a dental crown. A crown fully encases a tooth with a ceramic cap that protects the underlying tooth.
What are my dental fillings options?
Fillings fall into two basic categories: metal and composite resin. Metal fillings are either made from gold or silver amalgam (a mix of metals and mercury). Composite resin is a biocompatible mix of plastic and silica (glass). The silica gives white fillings a reflective property that is surprisingly similar to enamel.
How long have white fillings been around?
Various metal amalgam fillings have been in use for centuries. Composite resins first came into use in the 1960s. The biocompatible option quickly became popular because the resin did not require the use of mercury. Composite resin also offers superior cosmetic results. Plus, composite resin matches or exceeds the average lifespan of metal amalgam options.
White fillings continued to gain in popularity. Further refinement of the base material of fillings and the incorporation of etching to attain a stronger bond to the tooth surface led to the reliable and effective treatment option that Dr. Jobst and others use on a daily basis.
Benefits of White Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings have become the restoration of choice for many reasons.
Lower Risk of Sensitivity
Composite resin does not transfer heat as quickly as metal does. This quality allows patients to avoid unpleasant sensitivity when eating hot or cold food and drinks. Many people with silver amalgam fillings have to be cautious when drinking hot tea or eating ice cream. White fillings insulate your tooth from temperature fluctuations.
White fillings are also safer. Metal can leach into the mouth and bloodstream over time. Silver amalgam contains trace amounts of mercury, which is a known neurotoxin. White fillings are biocompatible and contain no dangerous metals or chemicals.
White fillings do not expand and contract due to temperature variations. Silver amalgam fillings expand and contract depending on temperature fluctuations. These fluctuations can wear and damage surrounding tooth structure over time.
White fillings are cosmetically pleasing. Composite resin is even used in a popular cosmetic dental procedure called dental bonding. White fillings can be shade-matched to blend in with the color of the surrounding tooth structure. The material is incredibly pliable before it is hardened, meaning that Dr. Jobst can blend the fillings in with adjacent tooth structure.
Composite resin also matches the natural luster of teeth. Once the material is hardened, Dr. Jobst can further polish the resin so it has a reflective quality similar to your natural tooth. White fillings are so natural looking that many of our patients can’t tell where their fillings start and end.
How are white fillings placed?
Your white fillings will be placed during a short and comfortable treatment at Dr. Jobst’s dental practice. Following your restorative treatment, the treatment site will be cleaned and sanitized. A special etching compound will be used to prepare the treatment site.
Etching opens up natural microscopic pores on the surface of enamel so the composite resin can gain a strong bond to the surface of your tooth. Once your tooth is prepped, Dr. Jobst will color-match the resin to blend in with your smile. Then, he will artfully mold the composite resin over the treatment site. The fillings will blend in seamlessly with the surrounding tooth structure.
Once the resin is placed, a special blue light will be used to quickly harden the fillings. Once the material is cured, Dr. Jobst will check your bite to ensure that the composite resin does not interfere with your bite. Any minor adjustments can be made at that time.
There is no recovery time associated with white fillings, and side effects are very rare.
Maintaining Your White Fillings
Caring for your white fillings is easy. With proper maintenance, your fillings can last for a few years to several years. Be mindful of what you eat. Hard food items like popcorn seeds, nuts, and certain candies can chip or prematurely wear your fillings. Since those foods are generally bad for your teeth, we recommend that you avoid them or cut back on consuming them if possible.
You will want to take steps to avoid tooth decay, which can loosen or dislodge your fillings. Brushing your teeth twice a day (or more), flossing, cutting back on sugar, and scheduling twice-a-year cleanings at our dental practice can extend the life of your fillings.
During your cleaning or exam, Dr. Jobst will check your fillings to look for signs of wear. If your fillings need to be replaced, the straightforward procedure can be completed during that visit or a follow-up appointment. Removing and replacing old fillings generally takes well under half an hour. Many dental insurance plans cover part or most of the cost associated with the treatment.
Replacing a worn dental filling can prevent tooth decay. It is possible for decay to occur under a filling, so let a dental professional like Dr. Jobst check your fillings at least once a year through an annual dental exam.
Schedule Your White Fillings Treatment Today
Dental fillings are an affordable and effective dental treatment that can restore strength and structure to your tooth following injury or cavity treatment. Dr. Jobst works with white fillings because they are safe, beautiful, and durable.
If you are interested in replacing unsightly silver amalgam fillings with this cosmetically pleasing alternative, please contact our office online or call (918) 787-5800.