Traditionally, dentists used amalgam metals to craft dental fillings to repair smiles following tooth decay and gum disease. Today, the Zam Dental team uses a more conservative, cosmetic solution – tooth-colored fillings. These natural looking restorations give us the opportunity to completely repair your smile, maintain the maximum amount of healthy tooth structure, and keep you smiling. Keep reading to learn more about tooth-colored fillings, or contact one of our two convenient San Antonio dental practices to schedule an appointment today.
How are Tooth-Colored Fillings Placed?
Traditional metal amalgam fillings are formed outside the mouth and placed into the damaged tooth, using wedges carved into the healthy tooth enamel to hold the filling in position. Tooth-colored fillings use composite resin to create a more natural looking restoration without removing any healthy tooth structure. The process is simple. We use local anesthesia to numb the area to be treated. Then, damaged tissue is removed. Next, the dentist applies an etchant that creates a more porous tooth surface and applies the putty-like composite directly onto the prepared tooth where it seeps into the porous surface created by the etchant. We shape the composite into position, and once the filling material is in place, we use a curing light to harden the tooth-colored filling into position. We smooth and polish the treated tooth, leaving you with flawless, beautiful smiles.
Tooth-Colored VS Amalgam Fillings
In addition to the improved appearance of tooth-colored fillings, there are a number of other advantages to using composite resin fillings instead of metal amalgams, including:
- Tooth-colored fillings are a more conservative option. Amalgams require us to remove healthy tooth structure to provide support for the filling.
- Amalgam expands and contracts at a much higher rate than tooth enamel. This can damage the remaining tooth structure or allow bacteria and plaque to accumulate between the filling and the tooth leading to decay.
- The amalgam can respond negatively to changes in temperature, creating severe dental sensitivity.
- Tooth-colored composite resin seeps into the porous tooth surfaces, and when it’s hardened into position, the filling creates a strong, natural bond with the tooth that actually strengthens the remaining tooth structure. This makes composite resin fillings the longest lasting, most natural restoration option.
Caring for Your Tooth-Colored Fillings
Once your tooth-colored filling is in place, you need to continue with your daily brushing and flossing routine and keep up with regular dental office visits to maintain your optimal oral health. Unlike some other restoration materials, composite resin isn’t stain resistant. That means you’ll need to avoid darkly colored foods and drinks and smoking to prevent discoloration. If you keep up with your regular in-office and at-home hygiene routines, you should be able to keep your tooth-colored filling for years.
Cosmetic Dental Bonding
We can also use tooth-colored composite resin for a purely cosmetic treatment called dental bonding. Rather than repairing damaged teeth, we use the composite resin to correct or conceal any number of flaws. Minor chips, cracks, stains, and even gaps in teeth can be transformed into flawless smiles.