A dental filling is used to restore a tooth that has been affected by decay or trauma. Traditionally, in the past, teeth were filled with amalgam or silver filling material which contained mercury. Now, as dental materials have evolved, we have access to a more modern dental filling material called composite. Composite materials are non-toxic, bond to the existing tooth structure, light-cured, and tooth-colored! Patients can enjoy a more aesthetically pleasing look in addition to a safer and stronger alternative to amalgam.
Typically, patients will require anesthetic and, on average, will spend about a half hour in our office per filling. Your doctor will remove any damaged tooth or decay and then start the bonding process. The area surrounding the tooth will need to be extremely dry. A conditional liquid is then placed on the tooth and rinsed away. Next, a bonding agent is placed and light cured. The composite material is then placed, compressed, and sculpted by your doctor. The material is then light cured, or hardened, and lastly, smoothed and polished.
Filling material that is undetectable in the mouth provides patients with superior aesthetics. The composite material is light cured and is completely set before you leave the office. Previous amalgam fillings relied on mechanical retention to hold the filling, wherein composite is bonded to the actual tooth. Amalgam fillings, over time, can develop micro-leakage where the filling and tooth would separate from one another, creating small areas that could harbor bacteria. The composite material creates an impenetrable seal between the filling and tooth and can be a very conservative way to treat a tooth.
In order to place a composite filling, tooth structure is usually removed prior, and this is an irreversible but necessary procedure. The life expectancy of composite fillings vary from person to person, but they typically lasts 5-7 years.
A consultation and conversation with your doctor will be needed to determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure, however, this is one of the most common procedures in all of dentistry.
There is no recovery time for this procedure. We just ask that you do not do any heavy duty chewing until your anesthetic has worn off, as there is a potential for injury to the tongue or tissue. Sensitivity to cold immediately following your filling is considered normal and should subside over time. Depending on how many fillings you have placed in one sitting, on average, one single filling will take about a half hour and is completed with just one visit. The cost of this procedure will vary depending on how many teeth will be treated. A treatment plan will be presented and reviewed prior to your visit. Typically, this procedure is covered by insurance, however, all plans are different, and you will have the opportunity to speak with an administrative insurance specialist to discuss your specific coverage.