Composite fillings are made of a resin that is made to match the color of your teeth. The resin is used to fill in any holes, cracks, or indentations in the tooth itself.

This type of filling will not stick out, unlike other restorations such as porcelain inlays, metallic fillings, or other dental amalgam. Instead, the composite fillings will blend almost seamlessly with the rest of your teeth. You may hear them under other names such as tooth-colored fillings or white fillings.

The resin itself is a combination of acrylic materials. This gives the resin strength when it hardens. Small amounts of metal are added to give the right color to the tooth. Trace amounts of titanium and zirconium are then added to make your tooth opaque.

What are the steps to filling in with composite resin?

healthy smileYour dentist will do a check-up and potentially take x-rays to see the damage done. This lets your dentist know how deep the filling will need to go and how extensive the damage is.

You may have local anesthetic applied when the procedure begins. This is to get rid of any discomfort during the process.

When your tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay in the area. If the patient had composite dental work done before a cleaning, it would lock in bacteria and worsen the already decaying tooth. Your dentist may use a dental rotary machine or various tools to remove decay.

When there is no more decay, a cleansing gel is applied to the affected area. After this, a bonding solution is placed in the same area.

Once the gel and bonding solution are thoroughly applied, the resin is applied. A high-intensity UV light is used to harden the composite,. This accelerates the process of resin hardening. The composite should harden in seconds.

After this, the composite resin is checked to see if it has hardened properly. All necessary restorations are made. When all changes have been made, the process is finished.

Post-Procedure Care

  • Take pain medication — It is not uncommon to have some slight discomfort after the procedure. Using over the counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen should work.
  • Notify your dentist if pain still occurs — If you still have pain a week or more after your filling, you could still have bacteria in your tooth. This may need more intensive procedures.
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene — Your filling is susceptible to the conditions of the rest of your teeth. Without regular brushing and flossing, your composites could fall out.

Composite Fillings vs. Silver

There are other types of fillings, including silver fillings, also known as dental amalgam. Before composite resin, dental amalgam was the standard.

Dental amalgam is comprised of silver, copper, tin, and mercury. Mercury in certain amounts can be considered potentially harmful. However, the ADA and FDA have signed off on its usage in small quantities.

Mercury also allows the rest of the metals to be bonded and manipulated into amalgam. Its combination with the other materials also renders the mercury harmless.

While dental amalgam is a great alternative, amalgamated teeth cannot blend in with the rest of the teeth. With advances in technology, resin is becoming a stronger alternative to classic fillings compared to dental amalgam.

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