Cadena Family Dentistry understands the importance of a confident and healthy looking smile. We also understand how difficult it can be to maintain a confident smile if you are feeling anxious about the visibility of amalgam fillings. That is why we offer our Composite Fillings – more commonly referred to as tooth colored fillings.
Composite fillings are different from amalgam fillings in ways other than just the color. Composite fillings look more like natural tooth than amalgam fillings do, and they act like it as well. They are not quite as resistant to the constant grinding and pressure that chewing puts on the tooth as amalgam fillings are – but neither are actual teeth. Composite fillings take just a few moments longer to put in than metal fillings do, mostly because the tooth needs to be kept dry throughout the procedure in order for the compound to properly bond and dry. The procedure is still quick and relatively painless.
Amalgam fillings often require a series of slots, pins and grooves to be drilled into the healthy tooth structure in order to hold the filling in place. Composite fillings bond to the tooth chemically and so none of that is necessary. That chemical bonding means composite can also be used to make small repairs that are not related to fillings! Commonly this means repairing a chipped or crooked tooth or even narrowing or closing a gap. Composite fillings can also be repaired if they are chipped or otherwise damaged, unlike other fillings which need to be removed and completely redone.
Having said that, there is no type of tooth filling that is 100% permanent. All fillings will need to be replaced at some point within the wearer’s lifetime. For some patients, this can need to happen twenty years after the initial filling, for others – for example a patient who grinds their teeth when stressed or sleeping – that replacement may need to happen sooner. Regular visits to your dentist will help you determine when replacement of the filling is appropriate.
While composite fillings are the most popular and aesthetically pleasing type of filling currently available, they do have some minor disadvantages as compared to the gold or amalgam filling that has been more common in the past. Firstly, the composite filling is not quite as strong as the amalgam filling, but that’s not to say it’s weak. Composite fillings are about 90% as strong as a completely healthy tooth! Amalgam fillings typically don’t stain since they’re metal and not normally porous. Composite fillings can stain with prolonged or frequent exposure to staining agents. This means smoking or chewing tobacco, dark liquids like coffee, tea, dark soda, red wine etc. can stain them. They can also be stained by frequently eating foods that are dark colored. These include things like tomato sauce, curries and beets.
As stated earlier, composite fillings are now among the most popular type of filling used – but some insurance companies still don’t cover them as a part of their plan. Many do still require that a surcharge be paid by the patient for placement of white fillings as opposed to metal ones – especially if the placement is the back teeth where they would not be easily visible. The staff at Cadena Family Dentistry will happily help you determine the requirements your insurance company has.