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What are Composite Fillings?

A cavity is never a welcome development, but they are quite common in children and adults alike. While the incidence of cavities has declined since the 1970s, more than 95 percent of men and women in the U.S. between the ages of 50 and 64 have at least one cavity. These numbers from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research indicate the demand for treatment is still quite high. The standard treatment for cavities remains dental fillings, although choices in fillings have evolved over the years.

Dr. Haynes offers composite fillings to his patients at Radiance Smiles Center. These tooth-colored fillings are an alternative to the amalgam or silver fillings commonly used in the past, which served their purpose well but left something to be desired from a cosmetic standpoint. Composite resin offers comparable durability and stability for the treated tooth while blending nicely, so it is less noticeable.

No filling is considered a permanent treatment and will need to be replaced within a matter of years to maintain its appearance and effectiveness. The composite filling may not last quite as long as their amalgam counterparts, but the difference is relatively small and many patients happily trade the shorter lifespan with the aesthetic benefits these fillings offer.

Reasons to Choose Composite Fillings

There are many different reasons why Dr. Haynes may recommend composite fillings as your treatment of choice:

  • Tooth decay, which is a cavity
  • A chipped tooth
  • Small gaps between teeth
  • A cracked or broken tooth
  • A tooth that shows some types of wear and tear

Dr. Haynes will examine your affected tooth to determine your best course of action. Fillings are recommended when the amount of correction needed is minimal. If you have extensive damage to a tooth, another restorative technique like a veneer or crown might be a better choice for you.

Are Composite Fillings Right for You?

Composite fillings are not merely cosmetic; they offer additional benefits to the treated tooth. Like amalgam fillings, the composite material can be used to strengthen a tooth that has weakened from decay or damage. This resin can be applied to nearly all sizes of cavities, including some larger openings. The treatment area needs to remain clean and dry to allow the material to adhere to the surface of the tooth properly. This extra step may require a slightly longer process than what is typically needed with an amalgam filling. However, Dr. Haynes is experienced in composite fillings and can ensure your treatment is successful in nearly all cases.

About the Process

Composite fillings can usually be completed in a single treatment session. To begin the process, Dr. Haynes will numb the area, so you are comfortable throughout your procedure. When the tooth is sufficiently numb, Dr. Haynes will remove the decay and clean the area well. A small dental drill is typically used to clean out the cavity and create a smooth surface for the composite resin to adhere. If the cavity is located near a nerve, additional medication may be applied before the filling is placed.

Once the area is prepared, Dr. Haynes will fill the hole with the composite resin. The filling is shaped to conform to the natural tooth and polished so that it is not noticeable. You will be able to return to your daily schedule as soon as the filling is completed.

Your mouth will likely be numb for an hour or two after your treatment, so it is important to avoid very hot or very cold food during that time. When the numbing medication wears off, you may find the tooth is slightly sore or sensitive. Oral pain medication will keep discomfort to a minimum and sensitivity should subside on its own within a week or two.

Caring for Your Composite Filling

While composite fillings are strong and durable, they are not invincible. Proper care will ensure your filling will remain in place and looking beautiful for a much longer period. The following instructions will help you maintain your composite filling:

  • Avoid biting hard objects like ice, hard candy or pens
  • If you grind or clench your teeth, consider investing in a night guard to protect your filling and your natural teeth
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily, including the tooth with the filling
  • Make an appointment with your dentist at least twice a year for check-ups and cleaning

A composite filling is an effective, aesthetically-pleasing way to address cavities and maintain the strength and integrity of your tooth. Treatment can usually be completed in a single session, and patients experience minimal discomfort or other side effects after the procedure. Composite resin can be used for both new cavities and older holes that are in need of a replacement filling. To find out if a composite filling is an appropriate option for you, contact Radiance Smiles Center today at 970-247-9549.