Fillings for Dental Cavities

At some point or other in ours lives, most of us wind up with a cavity. In most cases, a cavity calls for your dental surgeon to remove the decay and to fill in the tooth area that was removed. There have been a number of advances in the field over the past few years.

What are Tooth Coloured Composite Resin Fillings?

Most of us have had amalgam fillings (silver) or gold filling restorations. Some amalgam fillings were what we have called mercury fillings, as some amalgam fillings contained mercury. Metal fillings were effective, but very conspicuous and tended to blacken in colour over time.

Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. Tooth fillings coloured to look like a natural tooth are known as Composite Resin Dental Fillings, are made of a plastic dental resin. Composite Resin Dental Fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile. Many dental insurance plans cover their use.

Who is a candidate for Tooth Coloured Composite Resin Fillings?

If you have a cavity in a tooth, broken fillings, mercury fillings, or amalgam fillings, this type of dental filling is well worth discussing with your dentist. Mercury fillings or amalgam fillings can easily be removed and replaced with far more attractive coloured fillings. These fillings actually strengthen your tooth beyond the level it had with the amalgam fillings.

Composite resins may also be used to enhance the appearance of any tooth, which is a tooth bonding procedure. The composite resin will strengthen and enhance the natural tooth structure as it does with use as a dental filling.

How are composite resin fillings different from amalgam fillings?

Composite resin dental fillings were created as an alternative to traditional metal dental fillings. Tooth fillings coloured to look like a natural tooth are known as Composite Resin Dental Fillings, are made of a plastic dental resin. Composite Resin Dental Fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile. Many dental insurance plans cover their use.

How are composite resin fillings placed in cavities?

Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The dental surgeon then prepares an access to the decayed area of the tooth and removes the decayed portions. This is accomplished with traditional drills, micro air abrasion or even with a dental laser. More of the natural tooth can be preserved with this technique as the composite resin can be bonded to the tooth in thin layers. If your tooth's decayed area is close to a nerve, a special liner will be used to protect the nerve.

A special dental material is then used to roughens up the surface of the tooth. This achieves better and stronger bond. The bond resin is applied to stick the composite to your tooth. This material is made of the same dental resin as the composite however it is much more fluid. This layer is then hardened and cured with a very bright light. Composite resin fillings are applied in thin layers, and slowly built up to form the complete filling. A bright dental light will harden each layer before the next is applied.

Once your filling is completed, a special paper, articulating paper, is used to adjust the height of your dental filling so that your bite remains correct. Your tooth is then polished.

If such a filling is not going to be enough to protect your damaged tooth, or if your tooth enamel is thin and will easily fracture, or if your tooth has had a root canal that weakened your tooth condition, your tooth may require additional protection such as a crown.

Types of Cosmetic Dental Fillings

Composite Resin Fillings

There are no known health risks of receiving composite fillings. Tooth fillings coloured to look like a natural tooth are known as Composite Resin Dental Fillings, are made of a plastic dental resin. Composite Resin Dental Fillings are strong, durable, and make for a very natural looking smile. Many dental insurance plans cover their use.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings may contain mercury, and are often referred to as metal fillings. Their safety has been in question for a number of years due to concerns over the absorption of elemental mercury contributing to several diseases, including Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, dementia and arthritis. It has not been proven that the minute amount of mercury vapours released from silver fillings is a health hazard. Amalgam fillings are a mixture of mercury liquid and small pieces of silver and other metals such as copper, tin and zinc.

How much do composite resin fillings cost?

Dental insurance plans usually consider the replacing of metal fillings with composite resin fillings to improve your smile a cosmetic procedure. But in the cases of a cracked fillings or broken fillings, your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon can submit the required forms to your insurance. Typically your dental insurance coverage may reimburse you for these types of dental fillings. While most dental insurance coverage will only cover a percentage, usually 50% to 80%, of these fillings.

As composite resin fillings are more time consuming they are more expensive than amalgam fillings. Although costs vary across the country and by dental office, the cost of typical metal filling ranges from approximately 50 to 90 per filling, whereas a composite resin fillings range from 90 to 125 for a single surface white composite filling.

Pros and Cons of a composite resin fillings

Advantages:

The composite of composite resin fillings bonds to further support the remaining tooth structure, which helps prevent breakage and damage to your tooth. They certainly look better, and are colour blended to match your natural tooth colour. These fillings are often used to improve the appearance of misshapen, chipped or discoloured teeth. Composite resin fillings last about six to twelve years or more, and the procedure usually takes just one visit to your Cosmetic Dental Surgeon. There is very little sensitivity to hot or cold items often experienced with amalgam fillings. The dentist won't need to drill as much of the tooth structure as with amalgam fillings.

Disadvantages:

Composite resin fillings require more time to apply than amalgam fillings. This results in an increased cost for placing composite fillings.

Before & After Photos:
Composite Resin Fillings

Before Fillings

After Fillings