The most common reason that you might need a filling is to repair a tooth that has a cavity. Fillings can also be used to repair minor fractures, chips and damage to the tooth’s enamel. There are a variety of different types of filling materials available. Tooth-colored fillings (often called “composite” or “bonding”) are a hi-tech resin or plastic material. The material starts out as a putty-like substance which is then hardened once it is placed in the tooth.
What to Expect With Tooth-Colored Fillings
For most filling appointments we will start by getting the tooth or teeth numb. If you need to have more than one tooth filled this can be accomplished in the same day. Once the anesthetic is working the appointment will start by placing an isolation device in your mouth. Tooth-colored filling material performs best in a very dry environment. The cavity will then be removed from the tooth and the shape of the tooth changed in preparation for placement of the filling material. If the cavity is between your teeth, the teeth will be wedged apart so that after the filling they touch tightly and do not pack food. A plastic or metal band may be placed to hold the shape of the tooth during placement of the filling material. The tooth is prepared with a series of chemicals that “bond” the tooth-colored filling material to the tooth. The tooth is then filled and the material is hardened using a special ultraviolet curing light. After the filling has completed the hardening process, it will be shaped, your bite checked and lastly the filling will be polished.
How Long do Tooth-Colored Fillings Last?
All dental restorations have a lifespan. In the case of tooth-colored fillings they normally have to be replaced not because of a problem with the filling, but with the tooth surrounding it. The tooth can still get another cavity, and at the edge where the filling and the tooth meet bacteria can collect. Your home care will be very important in extending the lifespan of your tooth-colored fillings.
Are Some Tooth-Colored Fillings Made of Porcelain?
A tooth can be filled with a porcelain material that is tooth colored as an alternative to composite resins. This process requires two visits and the porcelain filling is made by a dental laboratory. We may recommend a porcelain filling versus a composite tooth-colored filling depending on the size of the cavity and the location of the cavity on the tooth.