“Tooth fillings” is a broad term. When someone says that his or her dentist did a “tooth filling” for them, even a dentist, such as Dr. Angulo, who has placed thousands of fillings has no idea what tooth, surfaces, or materials were used.
At Thornton Park Dental Arts, we like to use the term “composite restoration.” After all, we are a “restorative” dental practice, and our primary material is composite resin. Composites are fantastic materials used multiple times every day in our practice to restore decayed or damaged teeth. In essence, they are versatile, durable, light-cured plastics. You will hear them called “tooth-colored fillings.” In our practice, composite “fillings” are the most common restoration. Our goal is to restore teeth to their natural form as closely as possible.
We strive for restorations that do not trap food, have no detectable borders, no overhangs, no voids, feel natural to your bite, last for decades, and look beautiful. We’ve researched the best materials and methods throughout the last 20 years and are proud of the results we produce. Contact us to schedule a dentist appointment, including dental fillings and other types of dental restoration.
A cavity is a hole left behind following damage to parts of a tooth caused by tooth decay. The dental cavity retains within it bacteria, and if it’s left untreated, the bacteria may spread decay and cause further tooth damage. During a filling, our Orlando dentists clean the tooth and remove the decay from within the damaged tooth with a dental drill prior to filling the tooth. While removing the decay prevents further tooth damage, it does not remediate the current damage — that’s where fillings come in. Dental fillings work by replacing the part of the tooth damaged by tooth decay. The dentist molds each filling to match the exact shape and depth of the surrounding tooth. Fillings restore the strength and integrity of the tooth and protect vulnerable areas from further penetration from decay. Tooth fillings both immediately and effectively make healthy and functional a decayed tooth and can help improve overall oral health.
Only your dentist can detect whether or not you have a cavity that requires a filling. During a dental examination, the dentist will use a small dental mirror to examine the visible surfaces of each tooth. Any tooth that appears abnormal will be further inspected using special instruments. The dentist may also take a dental X-ray of the mouth in order to determine whether decay is present and, if so, the degree of decay. The exact type of treatment chosen by the dentist will depend on the extent of the damage caused by decay. For more information about our dentist office in Orlando or to schedule a dental check-up and teeth cleaning, call us today.
“This gentleman had no complaints. During his exam, I couldn’t get past what this tooth looked like. Yes, he had two decent small tooth-colored fillings, but the chips, roughness, fractures, and dark stains surrounding the fillings were hard to ignore. I showed him a photo of his tooth, and we agreed to investigate what was under the fillings. To my relief, the damage underneath wasn’t so bad that he needed a root canal or a crown. I could manage this easily by removing all questionable areas and extending the composite a little wider. We loved the result and feel confident he won’t have issues with his tooth. Maybe for the rest of his life.”
“Let me start with a disclaimer. We have no issues with amalgam fillings. While they aren’t beautiful, they are very durable and stable. In this case, the tooth on the upper part of the photo was allowing food to trap behind it. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. The solution was to replace the filling. While he was numb, he agreed to change out the smaller silver amalgam. As you can see, it looks much more natural.”
“Here’s another situation where our patient just wanted the silver out. Some people want them replaced because they hear about the mercury, and some just want the cosmetics of a nice composite. I did this one ages ago. It is holding up beautifully.”
There are a number of options available for tooth fillings. The most common types of materials from which fillings are made include composite resin, silver amalgam, ceramic (porcelain), and gold — each of which varies in strength and appearance. The best type of filling for you depends on your aesthetic preferences and the dentist’s recommendation for treatment.
Composite resin, or tooth-colored fillings, are a mixture of glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of a tooth. Composite fillings are likewise durable and they are ideal for small-to-midsize tooth restorations for areas of the mouth that perform mild chewing functions.
Silver amalgam fillings are made from a combination of several metallic elements, making them noticeable when patients laugh or smile. Amalgam fillings are strong and, thus, are ideal for filling teeth in the back of the mouth, such as the molars, where there is heavy chewing activity.
A ceramic porcelain filling, commonly referred to as an inlay or onlay, is produced in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the tooth’s color and resist staining over time. However, ceramic fillings are among the most expensive options for dental fillings.
Gold fillings are made-to-order in a lab and then cemented onto the tooth. These fillings are well-tolerated by gum tissues and they can last for up to 20 years. However, gold fillings are among the most expensive type of filling and they require multiple visits to the dentist office.
The cavity filling procedure begins with the use of a local anesthetic in order to numb the gum tissue around the affected tooth. A drill, air abrasion instrument, or a laser will be used to remove the decay from the tooth — the choice of instrument typically depends on the extent of tooth decay. The dentist will then prove or test the area during the decay removal process in order to determine whether any decay remains within the tooth depression. Once the decay is removed, the dentist will prepare the area by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is located near the root, the dentist may first line the cavity with composite resin or another material to protect the nerve. After inserting the filling, the dentist will polish the tooth.
There are several additional procedure steps for tooth-colored fillings. If composite-resin fillings are chosen, the dentist will drill the tool, remove the decay, and apply in layers the tooth-colored material. A curative dental light is then used to harden each layer. When the material has been fully layered, the dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trimming away excess material, and polish the treated tooth to a brilliant finish.
In most cases, tooth fillings last for a number of years before they require replacement. However, fillings may likewise wear out sooner than expected due to years of chewing. Teeth grinding (bruxism) may result in requiring early tooth-filling replacement. If you notice signs of wear on the tooth filling, such as cracking or chipping, contact our dentist office to have the filling replaced as soon as possible. Continued use of a damaged dental filling may cause the tooth to crack and require additional, more extensive repair. In some cases, additional tooth decay may develop around the filling, whether or not the filling is damaged. If this should occur, the dentist may choose to repair the tooth using a dental crown instead of inserting a secondary cavity filling.