Lee's Summit, MO Dental Fillings
Tooth decay occurs when acids produced by bacteria and sugar break down the structure of the teeth. The protective outer layer, called the enamel, is the first portion of the tooth to be affected. If the decay continues, it can reach the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth and cause pain and infection. Early stages of decay, called cavities or caries, can be treated with fillings.
What Are Fillings?
A filling is a material that takes the place of the structure of the tooth that has been damaged by cavities. Dentists treat cavities by first numbing the location where the work will be performed, then removing the decay with a series of handheld tools. This leaves an indentation that would otherwise leave the tooth vulnerable to more problems, so a filling seals off the inside of the tooth and reshapes the outside.
The filling material is soft and pliable at first but is hardened with a curing light after the application is complete. The process of removing the decay and filling the cavity typically takes at least a half-hour, depending on the severity and location of the cavity.
What Are Fillings Made Of?
Traditionally, dental fillings have been made from a material called amalgam, which is made of several types of metals, including tin, copper, silver, and mercury. For 150 years, amalgam has been the easiest and most long-lasting cavity filling material available, but there have been recent health concerns over the inclusion of mercury.
Industry research has shown that mercury's chemical makeup changes when mixed with other metals; the exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings has been proven to be less than what is contained in the air we breathe and the food we eat.
Composite resin fillings were introduced in the 1960s and eventually became an industry standard at most dental practices since they were more natural looking and safer than metal fillings.
The Facts About Composite (Tooth Colored) Fillings
Tooth colored fillings, also called cosmetic or composite fillings, can help restore your damaged teeth and provide cosmetic beauty. Placed by your Lee's Summit, MO dentist, this type of filling is an excellent choice for repairing a tooth. Teeth that are chipped, cracked, decayed, damaged, stained, or discolored can all benefit from a cosmetic filling.
Tooth colored fillings can replace bulky, unsightly metal fillings. Large metal fillings can actually weaken a tooth, structurally cutting the tooth in half. When you bite on a large metal filling, there is a good chance the filling can fracture, taking part of your precious tooth structure with it. Cosmetic tooth colored fillings can strengthen damaged teeth, because the material used actually bonds your tooth structure together.
Treatment Using Composite Fillings
The first step in your treatment is for your Lee's Summit family dentist to remove all traces of decay and old filling material, creating a clean, disease-free area. Next, your dentist will apply an etching material to create tiny holes in the surface of your tooth to retain the filling material. The etching material is rinsed off, and a bonding agent is applied. This allows the filling material to adhere to your tooth.
The next step is where the artistry begins. Tooth colored fillings are created from composite, a liquid resin material which can be shaped and molded while still in liquid form. Your dentist will apply the composite and mold and shape it to provide a natural-looking filling. The composite material is hardened using a high-tech ultraviolet “curing” light. As a final step, your dentist will shape and polish the composite filling to perfection.
Advantages Of Tooth Colored Fillings Over Metal Fillings
Tooth colored fillings are:
- More beautiful, because they look just like your natural teeth
- More natural, because they can be color-matched perfectly to your existing teeth
- More protective, because they can bond your damaged tooth together
- Safer than metal amalgam fillings because they don't contain mercury
Cosmetic tooth colored fillings are virtually invisible to you and those around you. When you smile, people will notice your beautiful teeth, not ugly metal fillings. Cosmetic fillings require a certain amount of artistry, so if you need a skilled dentist to sculpt your tooth colored fillings to perfection, contact Tim O'Bryan DDS in Lee's Summit, MO!