Despite all of your best efforts—daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet and regular dental checkups—tooth decay can still happen. Your teeth are up against the unrelenting attack of bacteria every minute of every day. These microscopic troublemakers can slowly but surely erode tooth enamel and cause a cavity to form. When that happens, you need a filling. Fortunately, fillings today are made of composite resin material that can be blended to match your tooth. Called tooth-colored fillings, these offer a strong and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional silver or amalgam fillings.
Dentists began using metal for fillings in the early 1900s, softening gold, silver or tin and molding this material into a tooth. Later in the century, an amalgam or mixture of tin, silver, copper and mercury was preferred. However, the use of mercury came into question. Mercury is a heavy metal that can vaporize and be inhaled. Although every precaution was taken to prevent this, risks still existed.
Safe and Strong Tooth-Colored Fillings
Because tooth-colored fillings are made of composite resin, there aren’t any health concerns. Essentially, composite resin is a medical grade plastic that is reinforced with powdered glass filler. And unlike amalgam fillings that only rest within the confines of your tooth and are held in place by pressure, a filling made of composite resin actually bonds to the remaining tooth structure. In this way, your restored tooth is made much stronger by your new filling.
Preparing & Placing a Tooth-Colored Filling
Like amalgam fillings, tooth-colored fillings mean that our dentist must remove a portion of your tooth structure, including the area of decay. However, a tooth-colored filling requires less removal of healthy tooth structure for placement. For you that means less time listening to and enduring the dentist’s drill. The advantage is that more natural tooth structure is left in place.
Once the tooth is prepared, the composite resin material is applied in layers and quickly hardened with a special curing light. Each layer builds up the final restoration for a perfect finish. And best of all, different shades of composite resin can be blended together to closely match the natural color of your tooth.