Restore the Natural Look of Your Teeth with Tooth-Colored Fillings in Vienna, VA
Poor oral hygiene and lifestyle habits often result in cavities, and if the problem is caught early enough, the dentist can use dental fillings to restore teeth. With this minimally invasive treatment, the dentist removes the decayed portion of the tooth and places a composite resin in the cavity. This helps eliminate pain, prevent further decay, and restore the full function of your teeth. Fillings provide good durability for either front or back teeth and because of the tooth-colored material, they look more natural. If you’re unsure about whether or not you need a filling, please contact Dr. Ellenbogen in Vienna at (703) 734-1095 to schedule an exam today.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Cavities do not show up overnight. Instead, they come from a slow process where bacteria in your mouth break down the sugars and starches in your mouth. As a result, bacteria produce an acid that eats away at the enamel. At first, the enamel just softens, but if the decay and bacteria are left to fester, the problem gets worse and eventually a cavity will form.
Why Treat Cavities?
Once a hole forms, no amount of brushing or flossing will reverse the damage. Only the dentist can restore the tooth structure and usually with a dental filling. If you do not seek treatment right away, the infection can get worse. What begins as a simple cavity could progress into pulpal infection, an abscess tooth, or tooth loss.
Procedure for Tooth Colored Fillings
From assessment to polishing and shaping, placing composite fillings can occasionally require subsequent visits to achieve optimal results. However, depending on the extent of damage and location of cavities, most often Dr. Ellenbogen can place one or more dental fillings in a single appointment. The process includes the following steps.
- Analysis. Our dental team will evaluate your teeth to determine which ones will require dental fillings and additionally, which would be good candidates for a composite filling. The treatment is generally scheduled for another date and time.
- Anesthetic. The dentist will swab the cheek and gum with a topical numbing agent, before giving a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort or pain.
- Clearing decay. Once the anesthetics have taken effect, the dentist will use a drill and other tools to remove the decayed parts of the tooth.
- Rinse and dry. Once he removes all the decay, the dentist will clean the tooth to ensure that no bacteria remain in the cavity before applying the filling.
- Filling material. The dentist layers in the material for composite fillings and cures each layer before the next one is applied.
- Final cure. Once all of the layers are completed, Dr. Ellenbogen uses the special light until the resin has completely hardened.
- Shaping and polishing. Finally, the dentist completes the finishing touches by shaping the filling to fit properly against the other teeth. Afterwards, he polishes the surface to create a smooth and natural appearance.
The Benefits of Using Composite Fillings
Composite fillings use a combination of plastic mixed with other materials to create a safe, durable and esthetically pleasing tooth restoration. This material is well-suited for teeth that are visible when you smile and do not take the full brunt of biting forces. Below are more of the advantages tooth-colored fillings provide.
- Since they blend with your natural teeth, composite fillings are virtually unnoticeable. No one ever needs to know you have a filling.
- Composite fillings are fairly durable and don’t usually chip off, crack, or break. However, if they do become damaged over time, the dentist can easily replace or repair these restorations.
- The composition of tooth-colored fillings creates a chemical reaction with the enamel. Over time, the composite resin forms a natural bond that strengthens the restoration and preserves the health of your tooth.
- Composite fillings aren’t just for cavities. They are also a versatile bonding tool the dentist can use to repair slightly chipped or fractured teeth.
- Most dental insurance providers cover composite fillings.
Tooth-Colored Fillings vs Amalgam Fillings
Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, have been the most widely used fillings over the last 150 years. Amalgam fillings are more cost-effective and sturdier than the composite material. However, amalgam isn’t always the preferred choice, particularly in recent years. Here are the reasons why.
- Amalgam fillings are a metal alloy containing mercury. When mixed properly, the other metallic ingredients in the amalgam fillings render the mercury inert. There have been rare cases (about 1 percent) in which reported allergic reactions have occurred as a result of the amalgam fillings and their mercury content. Though the FDA still considers amalgam fillings to be both safe and effective for oral health use, many patients fear the risk of a reaction to the metal alloys.
- The once popular silvery fillings stand out against the lightness of the enamel and are particularly visible on front teeth. Amalgam fillings are a better option for use on molar teeth, which need the additional strength for their heavy chewing surfaces. Otherwise the dentist typically opts for composite resins.
- Amalgam-filled teeth can tarnish and percolate over time. The silver color of the amalgam results in a slight darkening of the enamel over long periods of time.
- When you eat cold or hot foods and beverages, your teeth naturally expand and contract. However, silver fillings expand and contract more than natural teeth, increasing the risk of cracking or fracturing. The properties of composite resin more closely match the natural properties, and reduce the risk of these types of problems.
- To apply an amalgam filling, the dentist must create more space. So in addition to removing decayed portions of the tooth, the dentist also removes some healthy parts of the enamel.
Receiving tooth-colored fillings can be your ultimate solution for several cavity problems. If you have been suffering from a toothache, it is time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ellenbogen to determine if you are a good candidate for composite fillings. Call us at (703) 734-1095 to schedule your exam today.