Why We Choose Tooth Colored Fillings
A dental filling is what dentists use to restore both the shape, structure and functionality of a tooth that was harmed due to trauma to the tooth, or dental decay. In modern dentistry there are a multitude of options for fillings including gold, silver amalgam, porcelain, and composite resin fillings. Each type of filling comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. At Spokane Dental, we use composite resin which creates tooth colored fillings, and we do this for the benefit of our patients. Let’s dive into why that is.
Why Would I Need a Filling?
First off, we want to give you some context as to why this matters, and how it can personally affect you. An individual may need a filling for a cracked or chipped tooth, but most commonly a filling is used to treat a cavity. Tooth decay begins when bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the tooth’s surface, also called enamel. This can then lead to a small hole being formed in the tooth, which is called a cavity (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 2023). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults currently have at least one cavity, so this is a dental health issue you very well may have to deal with if you haven’t already. A cavity can not heal on its own, so if a cavity goes untreated it can worsen and spread, potentially leading to the need for a root canal treatment or potentially even tooth loss. Trust us when we tell you you don’t want to have to deal with a root canal or missing teeth. Your best bet is to treat your cavity with a filling as soon as possible, and if you get a filling, we want you to be educated on what materials will be used and how they can affect you.
What Can I Expect When Getting a Dental Filling?
The process for receiving a dental filling may vary from patient to patient depending on the specific situation and condition of the tooth, but you can expect the process to include a few basic steps:
- The part of the tooth that is suffering from decay is removed. When you come in for treatment, the dentist first identifies the tooth that will receive the filling and then drills to remove the decayed tooth structure. The dentist will drill until all of the soft, unsupported tooth structure has been removed and the hard tooth structure is reached.
- Placement of the proper filling material. Now that the tooth has been prepared by having the soft, decayed portion of the tooth removed, the filling material is placed on top of the tooth.
- Finishing and polishing of the tooth. Any extra material that may be on the tooth after the filling material is placed is now removed. The dentist will then detail and shape the filling to give it the contours that a natural tooth would have. Finally, the tooth is polished to smooth out any rough surfaces left and give it a glossy finish.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are what we refer to as tooth colored fillings. They look so similar to that of a natural tooth that it is nearly impossible to tell whether or not there is even a filling in the tooth. The results are much more discreet than those yielded from metal fillings such as silver amalgam. The reason we choose to use composite resin for our fillings at Spokane Dental is not only because the aesthetic result our patients get, but because composite resin is better for you overall. When using composite fillings, there is much less damage that needs to be done to the tooth as composite fillings bind to the tooth chemically, unlike silver fillings which need to remove additional healthy material from the tooth to create a ledge that locks the filling in place. Additionally, composite resin fillings are made up of non toxic materials that contain no mercury, something all metal fillings have.
Silver Amalgam Filling
Silver amalgam fillings are one of the most ancient types of material to have been used for fillings and have been used since the very beginning of dentistry. Dental amalgam, also referred to as silver-filling, is a mixture of mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc. Dental amalgam is approximately half (50%) mercury, by weight (U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2023). The main benefit of silver fillings is their durability. They were often used to fill cavities in back teeth because they were strong enough to endure heavy chewing forces, and in some cases, lasting for a lifetime. Though the durability is a plus of silver fillings, they also expand and contract from cold and heat at different rates than teeth, resulting in the teeth cracking or breaking very easily. Additional downsides to silver fillings include their metallic appearance that is not very discreet, as well as the amount of mercury in the fillings which have the potential to cause serious side effects to some patients.
Benefits of Composite Fillings
- Aesthetics. They match the color of your natural teeth, which means no glaring silver shine to be seen!
- Better for your teeth. Silver fillings require dentists to remove healthy parts of your teeth with a drill to create a ledge that locks the filling in place, composite resin fillings allow you to only remove the damaged and decayed part of the tooth.
- Provide additional support. The composite resin bonds directly to the tooth, providing support and maximizing strength.
- Resistant to temperature change. Due to this, composite resin fillings are not prone to expanding or contracting with different temperature, meaning the tooth is less likely to crack or become weak.
- Versatile. Composite resin can be used for more than just cavities, it is able to fix superficial flaws such as a chip in your tooth.
Tooth Colored Fillings at Your Spokane Dentist
At Spokane Dental we pride ourselves on being the best of the best. Whether you need a cavity filled or other restorative work, implants, teeth whitening, or simply preventative care, our team is made up of experts that will ensure you leave with the healthy, happy smile you deserve. Give us a call or schedule a consultation today to see what we’re all about!