Tooth-colored dental fillings are a quick and effective treatment used to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay and cavities. Drs. Chris Crawford and Rick Leishman place tooth-colored dental fillings for patients at their Orem, UT, dental office to strengthen decayed teeth and preserve the appearance of the smile. Tooth-colored fillings offer numerous advantages over silver amalgam fillings including a stronger bond and better long-term support. Old amalgam fillings contain trace amounts of mercury, and although they are approved for use by the FDA, the metal can expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, compromising the structural integrity of the tooth.
Tooth decay, or cavities, are the result of bacteria turning high-sugar foods into acids that break down your tooth enamel. When left untreated, a cavity can eventually affect the inner parts of the tooth and become infected. Severe decay requires more extensive treatments, such as root canal therapy or dental crowns. If decay and infection are not resolved, tooth loss can occur, which leads to bone deterioration and an increased risk of additional tooth loss. Your oral health is closely linked with your overall physical health. Tooth decay can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions.
Initially, you may experience no symptoms of a cavity. Over time, however, you may develop pain in the tooth or in the gum tissues around the tooth. You may also experience sharp pain if you eat or drink something that is too hot or too cold, or that contains a high amount of sugar. With advanced decay, holes in the tooth may become visible.
The filling process is relatively simple. After examining your teeth and taking x-rays to confirm a filling can repair your tooth, your doctor will numb the tooth and the surrounding gums. Once the tooth is numb, he will remove the decay and create a shade of composite resin to match the color of your tooth. This material will then fill the resulting empty spaces. To harden the material, he will use a curing light, or a UV light, holding it over the filling for about 30 seconds. He will polish the filling so that it does not adversely affect your bite or create an inconsistent dental surface.
Tooth-colored fillings offer greater strength and support for your tooth than amalgam fillings. Silver amalgam fillings are reactive, changing shape with changes in temperatures. Over time, this can actually cause more damage to your tooth. Composite resin is non-reactive, so it provides your tooth better long-term support. Unlike amalgam, which contains mercury, composite resin is non-toxic and biocompatible. One of the most obvious benefits of tooth-colored fillings over amalgam is that composite resin will blend with your smile. Our doctors can match the material to the shade of your tooth for a completely seamless look.
If you are experiencing any signs of tooth decay, contact our dental office right away to set up an appointment. The sooner you seek treatment for a decayed tooth, the greater chance we have of repairing it with a filling. More advanced decay will require more invasive and extensive treatments like dental crowns. It is better for your oral health⎯and your wallet⎯to seek early treatment and receive a filling when needed.