Composite (tooth colored) fillings are used to repair teeth that have been damaged by cracking, fractures, decay, etc. In order to fill a tooth, the damaged portion of the tooth must first be removed, then the resulting opening will be filled with composite filling material.
There is a broad spectrum of filling materials available today, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist will discuss with you the best options for restoring your teeth. Composite fillings and silver amalgam fillings are the most commonly used filling materials in current usage. Since composite fillings are tooth colored, it is feasible for them to be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. For that reason, they are more aesthetically suited for use in more visible areas, especially in the front teeth.
Like your natural teeth and other dental restorations, composite fillings are not totally permanent. They are quite durable, and with reasonable care, they’ll last for many years. Composite fillings will give you a long lasting, beautiful smile—but you should realize that they may someday have to be replaced.
Composite fillings can usually be placed in a single appointment. First, the tooth and adjacent gum will be anesthetized. While it is numb, your dentist will remove decay and shape the resulting opening as necessary. The opening will then be carefully cleaned and prepared to receive the new filling. If the decay extended near the tooth’s nerve, a special medication will be applied to protect the nerve.
Finally, your tooth will be restored to its original shape and function through precise placement and shaping of the composite filling, which will then be polished and blended to match the original tooth.
When a composite filling is first placed, it is normal for the tooth to exhibit sensitivity to heat and cold, but these sensations will subside as your tooth becomes acclimated to the new filling.
When you receive a new composite filling, your dentist will provide you with instructions for proper care of your new filling. Good eating habits, proper oral hygiene practices, and regular dental visits will aid in extending the life of your new filling.