Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is caused by the acid-producing bacteria found in plaque. These acids eat away at the enamel (the outer-most layer of a tooth), leading to the formation of cavities. At Hanfu Lee, DDS, we always try to treat a cavity before it progresses into a more serious complication. If we diagnose you with a cavity during your routine checkup, we will likely treat the tooth with a dental filling. Fillings can also be used to repair cracked, broken, or worn down teeth, specifically with the use of composite resin.
There are several types of filling materials, some of which include:
• Composite resin. Composite resin is a soft mixture of glass or quartz filler that is color matched to the existing shade of your enamel. For this reason, composite fillings are ideal for cavities that are visible when you smile. The material also provides good durability and can be used for anterior (front) and posterior (back) teeth. Due to its aesthetic and functional value, composite is the most popular choice for dental fillings.
• Amalgam fillings. Amalgam, or silver fillings, have been used in dentistry for over 150 years. Because they are made from metal, amalgam fillings are extremely resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. We may recommend amalgam for a large cavity in a posterior tooth due to its durability. However, amalgam fillings have fallen out of favor due to their indiscrete color.
• Gold Fillings. Gold fillings are fabricated in a laboratory and then later cemented into place. Also known as inlays, gold fillings have unmatched durability, lasting well over 20 years. Inlays can also be made from porcelain, which is better for cosmetic reasons.
Composite Filling Procedure
We begin the composite filling procedure by using a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, Hanfu Lee, DDS will remove any decayed tooth material and clean out the cavity with a special solution. The surface of the cavity will then be etched and conditioned to create a stronger bond between the composite and the enamel.
Once the tooth is properly prepared, we mix the composite ingredients and place them directly into the cavity. We use a color shade to pick the color of composite that best matches your tooth. After the composite is in place, we use an ultraviolet curing light to harden the material and expedite the bonding process. We then trim any excess material and polish the composite until it matches the sheen of your enamel.
After You Receive A Dental Filling
Dental fillings are easy to care for and maintain. Be sure to follow good oral hygiene practices, and schedule checkups and cleanings at regular intervals. Brushing with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste can help protect the tooth from further decay. Flossing once a day can also drastically improve your oral health.
Sensitivity issues are normal during the first few days with your new filling. If this issue persists or worsens over time, be sure to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible. We may need to repair or replace your filling.
Schedule An Appointment
If you would like to learn more about dental fillings, call 626-447-0888, and schedule an appointment now!