The entire purpose of maintaining stellar oral hygiene habits is, of course, to protect the health, structure and function of your natural teeth. By brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing them once daily, visiting the dentist twice a year for thorough examinations and cleanings and maintaining a healthy diet, you are better able to ensure that your teeth remain healthy and strong. However, the truth is that even with stellar oral hygiene habits, tooth decay and damage can sometimes occur. Fortunately, there are restorative dental treatments that are designed to repair decayed and damaged teeth so that you can once again experience ideal tooth health, structure and function.
Even though it is understood that teeth occasionally require repair due to decay and other types of damage, this does not necessarily mean that we want to show off these repairs to anyone and everyone we meet. In fact, we much prefer repairs that can be successfully and completely hidden, so that all our teeth look healthy and natural. This type of “invisible” repair is what can be accomplished through the use of colored composite fillings.
Understanding Colored Composite Fillings
Colored composite fillings are made from tooth-colored resin that is carefully matched to the color of the patient’s natural teeth. These fillings work well for the repair of small- to medium-sized damaged or decayed areas on any tooth in the mouth. Colored composite fillings are most often used to restore teeth that have been chipped, that have large, unsightly gaps or spaces between them, that are cracked or broken, that are decayed, and that are worn down. These fillings are fairly durable and can withstand the moderate pressure that is applied through normal chewing, which makes them a good choice for individuals who seek to restore structure and function while maintaining a natural look.
In most cases, colored composite fillings can be placed in the mouth during one visit to the dentist. During this visit, your dentist will:
- Numb the soft tissue area around the tooth that will be treated. This is necessary in order to make the treatment as comfortable as possible.
- Remove any decay that is in the tooth. This will help to prevent against further damage after the filling has been placed.
- Thoroughly clean the tooth and prepare it for the filling. This is important to ensure proper bonding of the filling. In some cases, especially where the decay was particularly deep, your dentist may even apply some medication in order to ensure the tooth is fully protected.
- Place the colored composite filling in layers. Each layer of composite filling will be placed, shaped, cured and polished to ensure ideal shape and function.
It can sometimes happen that the patient experiences some sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages after they have received a new colored composite filling. Fortunately, this sensitivity will wane over time, and the tooth will eventually feel healthy and natural. Care for colored composite fillings is fairly simple. Teeth that have colored composite fillings should be cared for just as one cares for their other, natural teeth–with a healthy diet, twice daily brushing, once daily flossing and twice yearly dental examinations and cleanings.
Amalgam and gold fillings have long been used due to their wonderful durability, but colored composite fillings are becoming increasingly popular since they are essentially invisible once placed in the mouth. That said, colored composite fillings can take longer to install than other types of fillings, primarily because the tooth that is being filled has to be kept completely clean and dry throughout the entire process. Furthermore, while colored composite fillings that are well cared for can last for a good length of time, they don’t usually last quite as long as amalgam or gold fillings and they will eventually need to be replaced. Your dentist, Dr. Best, will discuss with you the pros and cons of colored composite and other types of dental fillings, so as to ensure that you receive the absolute best treatment for your own specific needs.