Tooth Coloured Fillings - Composites
WHAT IS A FILLING?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth, damaged by decay or other reasons, back to its normal function and shape. By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay.
Materials used for fillings include a composite resin (tooth-coloured fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
WHEN IS A FILLING NEEDED?
Decay is the most common but is not the only reason you may need a filling. Other reasons are cracked or broken teeth and teeth that are worn from unusual use, such as Nail-biting, Tooth grinding (bruxism), using your teeth to open things.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF COMPOSITE (TOOTH COLOURED FILLINGS)?
- Aesthetics – the shade/colour of the composite fillings can be closely matched to the colour of existing teeth. Composites are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
- Bonding to tooth structure – composite fillings actually chemically bond to tooth structure, providing further support.
- Versatility – in addition to using as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
- Tooth-sparing preparation – sometimes less tooth structure needs to be removed compared with amalgam fillings when removing decay and preparing for the filling
- No mercury toxicity: Silver amalgam fillings contain mercury which is known to cause toxicity, which is not present in composite fillings.
- They can be repaired if damaged.
HOW IS A FILLING DONE?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled. After the filling has been placed, your dentist will polish the tooth.
It might be done in a single sitting if the cavity is small. If the cavity is big the dentist might decide to give you a temporary dressing and check for other symptoms before filling it with the permanent restoration.
WHY DO A FILLING?
If not repaired with a filling, the cavity will continue to grow and might lead to one of the following:
- It might be hard to restore with a conventional filling and only a dental crown can fix it.
- If it reaches the pulp chamber, then the pulp becomes irritated and infected.
- It could lead to an abscess, which can be very painful. A root canal would be then required to fix the tooth when its pulp is infected followed by a crown.
- If grossly broken the tooth would need to be extracted.
- Cost: A root canal and a crown are expensive treatments. Replacing a missing tooth can even be expensive. Both require more number of appointments and time as well.
That is why it is recommended to go for regular dental checkups, every six months. A cavity that is detected early can be treated and will do less damage to your tooth and your wallet!
WHY DO OLD FILLINGS NEED REPLACEMENT?
Fillings don’t last forever. They can become discoloured. Composite, tooth-coloured fillings pick up stains, and yellow or darken over time. When you chew, your teeth and any fillings in them are subjected to tremendous pressures. Even if no other problems develop, some fillings will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. A filling will need to be replaced earlier if it falls out, leaks or cracks.
Bacteria and bits of food can seep down under a filling that is cracked or leaking. Since you can’t clean there, the bacteria feed on the bits of food and form the acid that causes tooth decay. Decay under a filling can become extensive before you notice it or it causes you pain. This is why you should have your fillings checked regularly and get them replaced when problems are found.
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